Bahnstadt Heidelberg


City of Heidelberg together with Development Assossiation Heidelberg (Etwicklungsgesellschaft Heidelberg, EGH)


Building started in 2008, first people moved there in 2012


Leading case typology

   Leading case function



   Industrial, services, etc.

Main Targets for 2005

  • Shape a new particularly appealing district since modern living space is as scarce as space for science and research in Heidelberg’s city center;
  • Create a mixed use district, offering a vibrant mixture of living space, science, industry and culture;
  • Create a sustainable low energy district in the interests of sustainable urban development.

The former freight depot of Heidelberg’s Bahnstadt, which was closed down in 1997, is transformed into one of the largest passive house districts worldwide. About 2.000 people will be living in the new district by the end of 2013. After the finalization of the project, it will be about 5.000. Additionally, approximately 7.000 people will be working there. 

All new buildings are built as passive houses to compensate the investment, guaranty independence from energy supply and increase the comfort in the buildings.

The utilities of Heidelberg are currently installing a district heating system that will meet the remaining energy needs in a sustainable and efficient way. Each unit will be connected separately to the grid what allows a smart distribution of the energy to where it is needed just in time. The district heating plant will mainly be run with wood chips that are delivered from regional producers, within a maximum distance of 75km.

About 90% of the district heating used today comes from combined heat and power plants. In addition to the above introduced district heating system, solar panels will be installed for water heating. The medium-term aim is to meet the energy demand of Bahnstadt entirely from renewable energy sources. Energy efficient appliances will be installed in all buildings.

Car traffic will mainly be subterranean. Every building is equipped with an underground car park including charging stations for electric cars and e-bikes. The city of Heidelberg is promoting biking as the first choice means of transport in a district of short distances and mixed land use.

The city developed a consultancy model for client that plan to build new in the district. To assure the quality and passive house standard, they arrange meetings between architects, investors and planners before a unit is sold to explain the requirements for the planned passive houses.

The district will be characterized by research and science: it offers space for future industries such as life sciences, biotechnology, information and communication technology, energy and environmental sciences as well as other science-related companies. The so called “SkyLab” is nearly completed and the most remarkable building in the new district. About 20.000 m² of laboratories and offices are situated on 5 floors. The »Schiller International University«, a private US-American University, is opening a branch in the Bahnstadt.


Although the concept is promoting low energy bills and high quality mixed use planning, the mayor declares that a passive house would have its price. There will be no social housing in Bahnstadt. Funding is provided for 20% of the residential area for families with “an average income or above”, as stated on the website. In view of the high demand for living space in Heidelberg, the new units will be sold easily to high income citizens. Currently there are about 30 applicants per flat or housing unit that want to rent or buy in Bahnstadt.