OptiWohn - Quarters Specific Probe and Development of Innovative Strategies for the Optimized Use of Living Space

Project team

Daniel Fuhrhop, Dipl-Kfm.


Management Chair

Prof. Dr. Bernd Siebenhüner


Birgit Schelenz

+49 441 798-4384  

OptiWohn - Quarters Specific Probe and Development of Innovative Strategies for the Optimized Use of Living Space

Project Description

Object of Research

Living space is a resource: As much as the ground, in general, should be used considerately and land consumption should be reduced, living space is a scarce good as well - a phenomenon highly visible in large cities. Therefore, the project OptiWohn studies how living space use can be optimized. For that purpose, OptiWohn specifically counsels senior citizens, which options they have with large apartments or houses - reorganization, subtenancy or removal. If the counselling succeeds and existing apartments and houses are used more efficiently, energy-intensive new construction can be avoided. For achieving the energy transition, we need not only energy efficiency but sufficiency - rooms, that haven't been constructed before, don't need to be heated. To use flats efficiently, the OptiWohn program seeks ways to reduce the living space per person, so that more people live in the same space.

Method / Approach

The OptiWohn program studies in three ways, how the consumption of living space per person can be reduced: by reconstruction of the existing asset, by change management and by new construction in line with the change management. In the course of this, the project looks especially at senior citizens, whose apartments and houses got too large after their children moved out. To explore their options, they receive counselling in the three model cities Göttingen, Köln and Tübingen. Some would like to reconstruct the building and create a granny annexe (the architects of werk.um assist at this step). Others would like to receive subtenants while again others prefer to move (for this, the local project partner cooperate with housing companies or housing counselling agencies). Also possible is the conception of new constructions with common living arrangements, where less living space per person accrue, and in which elderly people can move from their bigger apartments. The OptiWohn partners connect the existing offerings in the model cities and organize living space agencies, which help senior citizens individually to find their new residential happiness.

In the sub-project in Oldenburg, Daniel Fuhrhop is engaged in a style of intermediation of subtenants already existing since the 1990ies in Germany: "Living for Help". In this program, mostly young people like students, move together with elder people and instead of paying normal rent in euro, they provide help in household chores, in the garden or while shopping. For this operation, agencies are located in 36 cities agencies, mostly associated with student services or at the municipality. Daniel Fuhrhop studies how these agencies work, on which ground their success is based and which challenges they meet. This analysis assists with the installation of the complex counselling offerings of the OptiWohn project. Furthermore, the analysis will show how a project like "Living for Help" can help to relieve the current situation at the housing market and how new constructions can be avoided. It therefore demonstrates the economic and ecological significance of the model.

Project Duration

01.05.2019 – 31.03.2022


The Federal Ministry for Education and Research promotes OptiWohn as part of the funding guideline „RES:Z - Ressourceneffiziente Stadtquartiere für die Zukunft“ (Resource efficient quarter for the future). This is part of the flagship initiative within the Ministry's framework program „FONA - Forschung für Nachhaltige Entwicklung“ (Research for Sustainable Development).

Project sponsor Jülich.


(Changed: 20 Apr 2022)