“It’s a paradise for children.”
It’s a comment you commonly hear about Bahnstadt, a developing neighborhood tucked behind the main train station in Heidelberg, Germany. There’s a play space just about everywhere, and along the promenade that runs through the length of the neighborhood, the playgrounds are themed around farms, trains, and firefighting.
As well, Bahnstadt is stuffed with nine daycare centers, 340 kindergarten spaces, and numerous well-maintained green areas, for a population of roughly 6,000 and counting. The streets have also been designed to be friendly to pedestrians and pedallers of all ages and mobility levels (though there’s continuing tension between drivers and those who want to reduce the space and speed given over to cars).
Some residents have installed air conditioning. This isn’t prohibited, but the Bahnstadt planners have attempted to forestall it by reducing overheating in the first place. The complex’s larger buildings, including the Passive House movie theater, use district cooling. In this network, a cooling center cools water using solar-generated electricity and ice storage, then distributes it locally. This system leads to substantially lower CO2 emissions, according to the City of Heidelberg.