Pro Scholare


New construction of an integrative residential property with commercial space: pro scholare

This project, which is located in Freiburg-Rieselfeld, was one of the first model projects built in accordance with the five-finger-principle. In this context, the term “pro scholare” does not only refer to the multi-family-home that comprises 82 apartments and a variety of commercially used units, but is also the name of a cooperative rental association that acts as a broker between property owners and tenants.

Consequently, pro scholare handles two important functions simultaneously.

On the one hand, it is part of an integrative social concept: as the general tenant, it is not only in a position to specifically control the rents, but also the social diversity of the complex’s residence structure. The six-floor building accommodates tenants of different ages and different ethnic backgrounds, as well as residents who do not have any handicaps and others who do. The building does offer handicapped accessible apartments.

On the other hand, the rental association compensates the risks of small investors. pro scholare guarantees owners that the apartments they own will be rented at all times, without interruptions. About 70 percent of the property owners are craftsmen who actually participated in the construction of the building. “While craftsman possess a wealth of knowledge, they don’t necessarily have a lot of money,” comments Wolfgang Frey.

A special financing concept offered participating craftsmen the option to acquire a stake in the building, for example in exchange for bartering work they did on their own building during their time off for some of the purchase amount due (Motivation). “The creativity of construction artisans is one of the most commonly ignored types of capital available,” observes architect Wolfgang Frey. As a result, the developer could count on good quality efficiently executed construction work. The craftsmen, on the other hand, were able to make retirement investments and acquire low risk assets.

Residential moderation

Once built, the goal for the structure and the residential environment was to also foster the communication between residents and help them identify with their home. Examples of additions that support these efforts are the small art gallery in the fire prevention stairwell and the shadow boxes in the hallways that are allocated to each apartment to be decorated by the residents. Targeted residential moderation further encourages the community spirit at the pro scholare.

Motivation through participation

Wolfgang Frey emphasizes: “As the creative drivers of the construction process we are responsible for the things we allow to be developed as cityscapes. We have to show our ‘faces’ and stand for what we do. Hence, the added value of work done with passion is priceless.” That is the reason why portraits are on display on the façade of the building. Everyone involved in the process demonstrates: I stand for this.

The multi-family home meets very exacting ecological standards. Among other things, this is true for the generation of electrical power via a photovoltaic system (40 kilowatts peak) or the production of hot water through a solar thermal solution. Rainwater is drained into the soil instead of the sewage system.

Titan oxide has been added to the façade paint as a photo catalyst. It converts nitrogen oxides into oxygen.

Premium quality ecological solutions

A geothermal solution is being used for year-round air conditioning: Radiant floor heat brings the heat into the building during the winter; in the summer months, excess heat is diverted back into the soil. Green zones can be found on both, the roof of the building and the roof of the underground garage. The latter resulted in the creation of a courtyard meadow.

The first tenants were able to move into the pro scholare model home in 2010. Since then, the Frey Architecture Firm has built additional commercial and residential complexes in partnership with the Freie Liegenschaftsverwaltung GmbH; all are based on the pro scholare concept and the “five-finger-principle”. In the interim, pro scholare has also begun to manage existing residential property on behalf of third parties.




Built in 2012, the Greenhouse is a residential and commercial complex that accommodates Freiburg’s sustainable urban development objectives: it fosters social interactions and is integrative, ecological and cost effective.

The entire design of the building is fully handicapped-accessible, which makes it possible for people challenged by physical, mental or multiple handicaps to maintain their own autonomous households in the complex. Each of the 66 apartments is just as unique and distinct as the needs of the residents: the complex offers everything to small one-bedroom apartments to elegant high-end penthouse suites.

Targeted residence moderation tools support the communicative interactions between the tenants. In some areas, the residents assume responsibility for the decorations in the semi-public parts of the building, which allows them to identify intimately with their living environment.

The ecological quality of the building is also remarkable. Optimum insulation throughout reduces the demand for heating energy to a low level so that the small amount of residual energy required can easily be covered by the geothermal activation of the soil. This method makes it possible to air condition the building year-round: during the summer months, heat energy is extracted from the building and diverted into the soil. During the winter, the system works the other way around: the heat energy in the soil is used to heat the building.

A photovoltaic system on the roof and on the sun-facing facades of the building (peak output 60 kilowatts) helps cover the building’s own power requirements. Solar thermal technology is used to heat up the water for the residents’ hot water needs.

Architekten Frey placed particular emphasis on providing the residents with a comfortable interior climate. The challenge: Given that the interior air quality in many passive solar homes is frequently sub-par due to reduced ventilation intervals. Hence, all windows in the Greenhouse are equipped with a de-centralized room fan with a cross heat exchanger function. This gives residents the option to decide for themselves – at any given time – whether rooms are aired out rooms through the opened windows or ventilated by the exhaust fan function of the cross heat exchanger, which recycles 90 percent of the heat. Moreover, a hygrometer, fine dust and toxin detector also control the individual room fans semi-automatically. Contrary to centralized house ventilation systems, which waste a large portion of the conserved heat energy, decentralized individual room fans air out rooms on an as-needed basis and with optimum precision.

Other innovative architectural details: The sides of the building exterior that do not face the sun are finished as double façade levels in their entirety. All of these facades are enveloped completely by an ensemble of balconies mounted to their fronts and covered with stainless steel webbing, which provides trellises for wall covering creeper plants. The resulting green zones do not only make the building a more attractive place to stay for residents, but also reduce the heat radiation.

Titan oxide has been added to the façade paint as a photo catalyst. By splitting off nitrates, it converts nitrogen oxides into oxygen.


Nursing Care Resident Group Adlergarten


The Nursing Care Resident Group Adlergarten is a necessary addition to the Schwanenhof Residential Complex, aiming to provide individuals who need intensive nursing care at a very advanced age with a graceful residence where they can live out the rest of their lives.

The concept developed to accommodate the special needs of the group of residents allows ten to twelve individuals who live in single rooms to participate in the daily activities in the shared living room or eat-in kitchen depending on how they feel on any given day.

The ergonomic therapy practice located on the top floor, which attends in particular to children suffering from the Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and the handicapped accessible apartments in the building ensure that the building is always a destination for a wide range of visitors.

The building comprises three floors and the basement. A residential group of patients who require nursing care and dementia patients lives on the ground floor. An ergonomic therapy practice and five senior adequate apartments are located on the first and on the top floor.


Student Apartment Complex


Unfortunately, the City of Freiburg, Germany, a university town, has lacked affordable housing for students for quite some time. Due to the overall shortage of available houses and apartments, rents have increased continuously over the past few years.

The objective of building the student apartment complex was to offer furnished apartments for EUR 250 a month, which is considered affordable. The monthly rent was used as the basis to compute the available refinancing amount and thus the anticipated construction costs, which in turn were used to decide how much residential space would be available in the apartments for each resident.

Integrative living concept

The complex is now home not only to students, but also to others with different backgrounds: a young family with one child, a single mother of two, engineers on service assignments, retired spouses who travel a lot and many more. All around the building, the architecture provides plenty of opportunities to encounter one’s neighbors and start conversations. The complex makes it possible for students who are new in town to establish new contacts. Hence, people get to know each other, become acquaintances and there is a sense of community awareness everyone gets to participate in.


Seniors Living Community “Dwelling is Life”


The planning phase of the Bahlingen apartment complex dates back all the way to 1999. At the time it was determined that the town accommodated the residential needs within the municipality of Bahlingen of all locals, with the exception of those of its senior citizens.

“Dwelling is Life” (German: “Wohnen ist Leben”) is the motto of this integrative residential model. A team of 60 nursing care institution staff members works at the complex. The building’s actual purpose is to create a living space the mobility-impaired individuals who live here find worthwhile in terms of their quality of life.

Of these residents, 32 live on the ground floor. Some of them require intensive nursing home care. The first floor and top floor provide homes to seniors in 18 handicapped accessible apartments and to families who have nursing-care dependent family members. A petting zoo composed of goats, sheep, rabbits and Guinea pigs is also located in the complex.

The building is energy independent (energy-self-sufficient). Hot tap water is generated in a strictly regenerative fashion using soil heat and a wood pellet stove. The nominal power output of the photovoltaic system is higher than the building’s total electricity grid connection level.

Another unique feature of the project is that it was funded based on the PPP (Public-Private-Partnership) model.

According to this funding model, private capital is generated at a low interest rate thanks to the provision of communal collateral. This makes it possible to finance such a complex. Given the fact that a private individual can implement such a project at a lower cost, this also generates new potential for the creation of community tasks. For this particular building, the municipality of Bahlingen brought in a specific start-up financing amount and the land parcel. The investor, on the other hand, is responsible for the financing of the entire construction project and the building maintenance for a period of 30 years.

Website ASB Seniorenpflegeheim (German)


Tulip House


The so-called “Tulpenhaus” (Tulip House) is an ecological wooden house with healthy building materials – built in a modern innovative aesthetic form. The four-storey apartment building in pure solid wood construction was presented to an international audience at the world exhibition in China (Expo 2010). The economic implementation of a sophisticated design can be achieved by the revival of an ancient construction technique of the Tulip House.

The highlight of this house is its unusual roof construction, resembling a flowering tulip. Up to the ridge of the roof appear nested levels of roof-like individual petals curved into the wind. This design causes that the building nestles in the landscape of the small-scale Kaiserstuhl vineyard terraces. The construction may seem complex for the viewer but it is based on simple ancient craft techniques.