Helga Fassbinder attended the humanistic Kurfürst-Friedrich-Gymnasium in Heidelberg (Abitur 1960, school prize for history) and subsequently studied art history and history at the Universities of Heidelberg and Marburg, architecture and urban planning at the Technical Universities of Braunschweig and Berlin (Dipl.-Ing.), and political science at the University of Bremen (Dr. rer. pol. summa cum laude).
As a professor of urban planning and urban renewal she taught at the Technical University of Eindhoven and the Technical University of Hamburg-Harburg, and as a visiting professor at various European universities. She was chair of the Support the Anne Frank Tree Foundation and is chair of the Biotope City Foundation. Since 2006, she has been editor-in-chief of the international online journal Biotope City Journal.
Helga Fassbinder represents a form of urban planning in which, in addition to citizen participation, public communication between the various urban actors, representatives of the professional disciplines involved, and political decision-makers play an essential role. The reintegration of elements of nature into the dense city is seen as a central method in combating the consequences of climate change and stabilizing social communities in urban spaces.
Mindful urban renewal
In the late 1960s, she emerged with the postulate of renewing inner cities through renovation and modernization, opposing the then prevailing practice of clear-cutting and renovation with new construction with activities in Berlin-Kreuzberg and including various widely acclaimed publications. From 1970 to 1975 she was a member of the editorial board of Arch+.
In 1975 she was appointed to the first chair of urban renewal in Europe at the University of Technology Eindhoven (NL). She propagated the concept of project-oriented, decentralized urban renewal and stimulated it with numerous lectures in European cities. In the 1980s she was active in the European campaign for urban renewal and represented The Netherlands in Geneva at the Economic Commission for Europe (ECE), Committee on Housing, Building and Planning, in the Working Party, Urban and Regional Planning on area-based urban renewal. The results of this Working Party were published in 1987 by the Dutch Ministry of Housing, Physical Planning and Environment in the report ‘An area based approach to Urban Renewal’.
From 1990 to 1998 she was head of the Urban Planning Institute at the Technical University of Hamburg-Harburg. In this capacity she edited the book series ‘Harburger Berichte zur Stadtplanung’.
Berlin City Forum
In 1990, she developed the concept of a Planning Forum for Berlin, which was positively received by Volker Hassemer the Senator for Urban Development at that time. This planning forum would gather representatives of all important players and actors in a city for an open, transparent discourse about all plans and larger planning projects at hand. This idea had been adopted by the Senator. As a co-founder of ‘Stadtforum Berlin. Fassbinder was a member of its steering committee until 1996. She documented the approach and experiences of the Stadtforum Berlin in articles and in a book publication entitled ‘Stadtforum Berlin. An Exercise in Cooperative Planning’.
Anne Frank Chestnut
In 2007, she established the Foundation Support the Anne Frank Tre
e, which worked to preserve the “Anne Frank Tree,” the chestnut tree that was the only view from the skylight for Anne Frank during the time she spent hiding with her family in the back house on Prinsengracht in Amsterdam. Since February 2008, the Foundation took great care of this chestnut tree. The Foundation grew seedlings of the chestnut, which were planted in various places in Europe and in Israel as living memorials for tolerance, freedom and against racism. The foundation was closed in 2013 and its tasks transferred to the World Tree Foundation.
In 2002, with the international congress of the same name at the University of Technology Eindhoven, she introduced the concept of Biotope City, which involves the intensive greening of built structures as the most efficient and at the same time the most cost-effective method of mitigating the consequences of climate change, starting from the idea of the high-density city as a form of nature. She subsequently established the Biotope City Foundation, which promotes the integration of nature into the dense city and, among other things, publishes the online journal Biotope City Journal (in German and English) since 2006.
From 2003 to 2013, Helga Fassbinder was a member and vice-chair of the Technical Advisor Commissie Hoofdgroenstructuur (Green Structure Commission) of the Municipality of Amsterdam.
From 2010 she collaborated with the Austrian architect Harry Glück and initiated the planning and construction of a “Biotope City” in Vienna. From 2013, she acted as a consultant on the “Biotope City Wienerberg” project, which was built with approximately 1,000 apartments and residential follow-up facilities on the former Coca-Cola site at Wienerberg and was completed in spring 2021. Since 2016, she and a team from the University of Natural Resources and Applied Life Sciences Vienna have been providing scientific support for the planning and construction of this project as part of a research project. In 2018, this project received the status of a candidate pilot project of the International Building Exhibition Vienna (IBA) 2022; it will be presented at the final exhibition presentation of the IBA in 2022.
She lives in Amsterdam and Vienna.
Publikations on BIOTOPE CITY JOURNAL – [other publications: have a look at her website]
- THE EXAMPLE OF BIOTOE CITY WIENERBERG – THE GREEN CITY AT THE CROSSROAD OF DISCIPLINES, INVESTORS AND AUTHORITIES
- BIOTOPE CITY – DIE DICHTE STADT ALS NATUR – EINE EINLEITUNG ZUR GLEICHNAMIGEN TAGUNG AM 4/10/19 AM CSM TU BERLIN
- EIN BIOTOPE CITY QUARTIER FÜR WIEN
- NUR RETROSPEKTIVE NACH 50 JAHREN ODER ERNEUTE AKTUALITÄT?
- WILDLIFE IN THE CITY
- URBAN FARMING AND BUREAUS – ‚ZUIDPARK‘ IN AMSTERDAM
- PIONIERE DES URBANEN GRÜN: HARRY GLÜCK
- IN MEMORIAM HARRY GLÜck: AN OBIT
- BIOTOPE CITY – DIE GARTENSTADT DES 21.JAHRHUNDERTS
- BLATTGRÜN:EFFIZIENT UND KOSTENGÜNSTIG IM KAMPF GEGEN DEN KLIMAWANDEL
- THE CITY AS NATURE – PROGRAMMING A U-TURN IN ARCHITECTUTE AND URBAN PLANNING / DIE STADT ALS NATUR – EINE KEHRTWENDE IN ARCHITEKTUR UND STADTPLANUNG
- THE NEW PLANNING REALITY: THE CITY AS NATURE
- THE PHILOSOPHY OF THE GREEN / ZUR PHILOSOPHIE DES GRÜN
- RED AS GREEN – THE CITY AS NATURE: THOUGHTS ON AN URBAN FUTURE
- Interview mit W. Czaja in ‚Der Standard‘: DIE STADT BRAUCHT MEHR GRÜN
- Interview mit Uta Gensichen: GRÜN HAT KEINE WIRTSCHAFTLICH GEWICHTIGE LOBBY
- THE CITY AS A ROCKY LANDSCAPE
- SMART CITY AS A SOCIO-ECOLOGICAL CHALLENGE
- VOM URBANEN GRÜN ZUR GLOBALEN VERANTWORTUNG
- BIOTOPE CITY AS TEACHING
- WOHNBAU IM KLIMANOTSTAND – BEHUTSAM ODER RADIKAL?