Design workshop Barn of the future

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12/15/2014

Students of the Faculty of Architecture advise agricultural sector in Münsterland

The development of agricultural livestock farming is currently an important issue in the media. The topic is dealt with in panel discussions, weekly newspapers (Die Zeit 48-51/2014) and even in an episode of Tatort.

As part of a four-day design workshop in Westmünsterland, students of the RWTH Aachen University offered positive development possibilities in the area of agricultural livestock farming. Münsterland is an agricultural boom region, especially in the area of meat and dairy production. Over half the pigs as well as approximately one-third of cattle, chickens and turkeys of North Rine-Westphalia are kept here. At the same time the region is known for its natural beauty as a park landscape. However, agricultural growth is reaching its limits, not only in regards to water and land resources but also in regards to animal welfare and the quality of the landscape that people are living in.

Young women farmers alongside Regionale 2016 are looking for ways to conduct agricultural livestock farming in this region in the future. The new barn constructions, that they intend to build after taking over the family farm, shouldn't just be economically efficient but they should also fit into the landscape and the existing farmyards, improve animal health, prevent disturbing emissions, as well as offer a suitable working environment for the women farmers.

From within its "Infrastructure, Production and Process" field of research the Faculty of Architecture had provided 21 students from the Department of Landscape Planning who contributed to this project. During an interdisciplinary workshop which took place from the 24th to the 28th of November 2014, these students worked with students from the Tiermedizinischen Hochschule Hannover (University of Veterinary Medicine in Hannover) and with agricultural students. During this workshop the students involved developed new barn construction concepts which were then presented to the public. Alongside the young female managers of three farms, tailor-made constructional solutions for dairy farming, piglet production and the rearing of poultry were developed. Spatially optimized industrial processes to improve labor efficiency and animal hygiene and to reduce the use of drugs were just as much part of the concept as was the possibility to provide a glimpse into the production process of livestock farming and to create a transparent, consumer-focused agricultural sector through the use of architecture. Improvements to animal welfare were incorporated in the structural designs and adapted to each specific species. Not only by providing a larger living space, but also by promoting the specific individual and social behavior of the animals. Compared to the usual standards in barn construction the integration of the extensions in the existing businesses is a special achievement. This also includes the recycling of existing building materials and the use of potential for heating and cooling production already present.

During the public closing presentation, the results generated much interest from the representatives of agricultural associations, agricultural construction promotion, the local planning authority and architecture community. The unanimous verdict of the jury: "Many elements and ideas can be used in future barn construction practice".

The students for their part, at the beginning of the workshop mere laypeople in the area of livestock farming, were enthusiastic about this opportunity to apply the skills they acquired at the RWTH in an interdisciplinary, current and realistic planning assignment.

Photo: André Dünnebacke / Regionale 2016 Agentur