Sustainability Meets Community at the Green City Hotel Vauban, Germany
Social responsibility is at the heart of Green City Hotel Vauban, prioritising sustainability and making strides in the integration movement for people with physical and mental disabilities. Designed by architectural firm Barkow Leibinger, the energy-efficient hotel is situated at the entrance of the Vauban quarter of Freiburg, Germany’s self-proclaimed Green City, and is an exemplar of sustainable, diverse, and locally minded businesses.
The hotel constitutes a continuation of Freiburg’s long-standing eco-friendly tradition, which stems from the rebuilding effort following the Second World War. Streets were rebuilt specifically with tram lines in mind, and today the city is partially car-free – in fact, Hotel Vauban is most easily accessible via the adjacent tram line. The building is comprised of both a hotel and a private apartment complex, joined by a shared roofscape and façade. Primarily constructed of wood and concrete, the building is modelled after a ‘passive house’ standard, with highly insulated walls and glazing enabling low energy consumption. The front façade of the hotel includes climbing plants on steel cables that provide shade in the summer and insulate warmth in the winter, reducing the need for heating and cooling year-round.
While the building itself boasts highly sustainable features, the practical philosophy of the hotel also revolves around sustainability without the sacrifice of comfort. Sustainable tourism is lived every day rather than an aspiration for the future, as Hotel Vauban abides by self-instituted eco-friendly practices – for instance, one-use plastic appears only as absolutely necessary. Groceries are purchased locally or regionally with a two-fold purpose: supporting local businesses and reducing the environmental impact of product transport. Combined with the emphasis on public transport in the area, the operations of the hotel provide guests with a low-impact option for holiday accommodation.
Hotel Vauban’s aspirations of social responsibility exceed their sustainable practices. They prioritise inclusivity and integration, designing their practices around the motto “less barriers, more tolerance.” In addition to all rooms being wheelchair accessible, the hotel collaborates with Aktion Mensch, an organisation that campaigns for the normalisation of neurodiversity in society. Through such partnerships, the hotel employs people with disabilities to provide steady employment alongside neurotypical staff. This works towards Aktion Mensch’s goal of integration rather than inclusion, where neurodivergent people enjoy equal opportunities in all areas of life and work.
Green City Hotel Vauban manifests social responsibility into a beautifully executed reality. From the commitment to sustainability in its design, locale, and practices, to its progressive employment programme, the hotel demonstrates the capability of all businesses to act in the best interests of the world at large. We at Casper & Casper find the Hotel Vauban’s commitment so inspiring, and we hope to see many more similar enterprises in the coming years.