Abandoned WWII-era military village to become 'commune for the 21st century'

The village in Heidelberg, Germany, which 16,000 Americans called home at one time, is being redesigned as a commune for up to 4,000 people.

February 09, 2017 |

Rendering courtesy of Carlo Ratti Associati

Patrick Henry Village was a U.S. Army installation that first opened in 1947 in Heidelberg, Germany. Before it eventually closed, the village offered its residents housing, schools, dining facilities, a bowling alley, a movie theater, baseball fields, and public services such as a library, a dentist, and a post office. On Sept. 6, 2013, the village closed.

According to Business Insider, since the time of its closure, the former military village has seen use as a temporary shelter for North African and Middle Eastern refugees, but most of the village has remained deserted. It may not be abandoned for long, though, as Carlo Ratti Associati has plans to transform the former U.S. military village into a “progressive commune for the 21st century.”  

This commune, aptly called the Patrick Henry Commune, will be centered on multiple practices of sharing, and provide enough living space for about “4,000 like-minded people.” The redesigned village will have a focus on shared, flexible spaces. 

New “Co-living Blocks” will emphasize common activity space - think shared kitchens and co-working space - over private residential units. The existing housing blocks will be either refurbished, partially demolished, or connected to each other to create the spaces where this shared living can occur. In total, about 30% to 40% of the commune will be shared spaces.

Private car usage will be discouraged, and personal automobiles will be replaced with a car-sharing service and self-driving shuttles that will connect the commune with the Heidelberg city center. The lack of vehicles will free up the garages located in the village to be used as fabrication labs.

The city of Heidelberg has approved the proposal, Business Insider reports, and the 240-acre site is expected to complete its transformation within the next decade.


Rendering courtesy of Carlo Ratti Associati.


Rendering courtesy of Carlo Ratti Associati.


Rendering courtesy of Carlo Ratti Associati.

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