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Erfurt „Ladebalken (Progress Bar)“


Involving young persons in urban development

Adolescents investigated and shaped their neighbourhood through various workshops and realised small projects by means of a “youth fund”. A vacant storefront in the neighbourhood was used for the local activities and in the course of the project became the socio-cultural centre of the young residents of the neighbourhood. The project activities were based on an empowerment approach helping to establish long-term self-help structures among young persons: adolescents supporting each other in realising their ideas.


The needs of adolescents within the urban development activities of the city of Erfurt have so far hardly been considered. They rather represented a fringe group having to justify their needs in other fields of activity as well. Through its various elements, the project in 2009 aimed at permanently activating adolescents and young adults to become committed to the neighbourhoods Johannesvorstadt, Andreasvorstadt and Ilversgehofen thus raising awareness for them. Furthermore, it should give impetus to permanent rethinking with regard to youth participation in Erfurt. The model project’s focus in 2010 was on perpetuating this programmatic approach. The project including its stakeholders should be better incorporated into the neighbourhood’s network and the succesful approach of the local fund for small youth projects should be extended in terms of contents and volume. Using empty storefronts should be further pursued, playing on and using open spaces and derelict sites be further promoted. Based on an empowerment approach, the adolescents involved should be enabled to organise future projects on their own and to support other adolescents in realising their ideas.

Project description

Jugendliche in einer entspannten RundeSource: Florian Mueller

The “Ladebalken” (progress bar) project was organised by “Plattform e. V.”, a youth association from Erfurt (205,000 inhabitants). The association’s aim is to involve young committed persons in urban planning and development processes. “Ladebalken” serves to offer adolescents a basis for helping to shape the neighbourhoods of “Ilversgehofen”, “Johannesvorstadt” and “Andreasvorstadt” by realising own microprojects. In doing so, the project pursues an empowerment approach enabling young persons to actively contribute, help shape and finally also have a say in the urban development activities. This is why, during the project, the association carried out training courses on technical and artistic topics but also project and financial management courses.

Activating young persons in the neighbourhood was done by establishing a youth fund amounting to 11,500 euros. It unbureaucratically provided young neighbourhood residents with the resources to realise their own ideas. The projects were selected by the annual general meeting of "Plattform e. V.". The association supervised and supported the projects also when being implemented. The youth fund was nearly fully used. The microprojects range from cultural events, self-help workshops to supporting the construction of a self-governed youth music centre or activating a derelict site as a location for a cultural festival.

The “Stube” (living room), an empty storefront, formed the spatial framework for the project activities of “Plattform e.V.”, for networking the stakeholders and developing creative local projects. Alongside the youth fund, the association also financially supported youth projects concerning topics such as using open spaces and empty storefronts temporarily. The aim was to motivate young persons to deal with the urban development topic in terms of contents. In initiating various projects, e.g. a music and art festival on a derelict site, several short film walks through the neighbourhood, designing facades of houses for which demolition was permitted, permitting walls to be used for legal graffiti or using an empty storefront for all kinds of voluntarily organised courses, the adolescents demonstrated that creatively (re-)using the city is possible and less expensive than expected.

By incorporating the project into the existing network of institutions, associations, interest groups and other important stakeholders, the perception and acceptance of the project could be increased. Setting up and qualifying a peer-to-peer support structure, involving locally active organisations and last but not least cooperating more closely with the city council of Erfurt are important milestones towards an integrated urban participation strategy oriented towards the sociocultural strengths of an urban district or neighbourhood.

The youth fund in Erfurt perpetuated in 2011 and is now financed through the “Thing Big” programme. “Think Big” is a programme run by Fundación Telefónica (Spanish telecoms provider), Deutsche Kinder- und Jugendstiftung (German children and youth foundation) and O2. Since then, more cultural events, bike polo, river bathing days and short film evenings have been financed via this instrument. A total of 65 microprojects could so far be supported.

Project chronology

2009Search for appropriate empty spaces, empty storefront converted and furnished into a sort of living room, fund for youth projects established
2010Cultural and art event initiated on derelict sites and in the city
2011Fund continued in the context of the “Think Big” project
2012Funding scheme 2012-2014 for children and youth adopted by city council (The city coucil’s department for youth welfare is going to check whether a local youth fund can be realised in cooperation with Plattform e.V.
2013First test of local youth fund under Plattform e.V., further activities planned in the following year


  • To activate young persons
  • To make adolescents interested in urban development
  • Microprojects of young persons within the urban space
  • To create a new culture of participation
  • To reactivate empty buildings

Types of measures

  • To set up a central youth club in an empty storefront
  • To establish a youth fund
  • Workshops and advanced training measures
  • Cultural and art events
  • To convert empty buildings and derelict areas


Jugendliche beim Projekt KunstrasenSource: Florian Mueller

The “Ladebalken” project demonstrated the momentum effect of fund models in the context of neighbourhoods. It also conveyed the important role of a local spatial basis – in this case the storefront - for activating young stakeholders in the neighbourhood. What is interesting is that open areas were also involved in the approach, a measure which, owing to the short period of time and higher requirement of energy and money, was only taken a few times by the adolescents, but with great success. With the aim to make adolescents independent players when formulating and implementing project ideas, the empowerment strategy performs an exemplary function.


  • Internet article “Die Stube muss schließen“ (The living room has to be closed) of 22 August 2013 at >> more information (in German)
  • BMVBS (ed.): Jugendfonds als Instrument der Stadtentwicklung (Youth funds as an urban development instrument), Berlin 2012, PDF, 5,7MB >> Download (in German), especially pages 22-23
  • Internet article “Projekt Ladebalken lud zum 1. Celebrache-Festival” (Ladebalken project invited to the 1st Celebrache Festival) in “Thüringer Allgemeine” newspaper of 19/08/2012 >> more information (in German)
  • Internet article “Eine gute Stube für Erfurt-Nord” (A front room for the north of Erfurt) in “Thüringer Allgemeine” newspaper of 24/02/2012 >> more information (in German)
  • “Wegweiser Bürgergesellschaft 23/2010” newsletter of 26/11/2010, PDF, 85KB >> Download (in German)
  • Internet article “Jugendfonds in Erfurt hilft Stadtteil-Projekte anzuschieben“ (Youth fund in Erfurt helps to lauch urban neighbourhood projects) in “Thüringischen Landeszeitung” newspaper of 31/05/2010, >> more information (in German)
  • BMVBS (ed.): Jugend macht Stadt (Young persons shaping the city), special publication, Berlin 2010, >>more information (in German)
  • Experimental Housing and Urban Development field of research “Adolescents in Urban Neighbourhoods”, model project “Ladebalken” >> more information (in German)

Further information

The projekt site ist to be found at postal code: 99086 - town: Erfurt - street: Salinenstraße 34.

Poject site on Google-Maps: Erfurt - Ladebalken

Last update: 28.02.2018

Additional Information


Record inserted on 06.12.2013 by the Federal Institute for Research on Building, Urban Affairs and Spatial Development (BBSR) within the Federal Office for Building and Regional Planning (BBR).

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