A small but well-connected town attracts young, digital workers to the area by providing them with discounted accommodation and a co-working space for a limited period of time.
A DECREASING RURAL POPULATION
Wittenberge is a small town in the rural area of Prignitz between Berlin and Hamburg, which has poor infrastructure. The town has lost almost half of its population since the 1990s and therefore has plenty of land and housing potential. In addition, there is a need to stabilise the population by attracting more people to the area, because the birth rate is significantly lower than the death rate and the population is decreasing steadily.
ATTRACTING INNOVATIVE, YOUNG MINDS
Wittenberge is very well connected to the cities by rail and, in addition to its land and housing potential, has a unique natural environment due to its location in the Elbtalaue biosphere reserve. However, there is a lack of innovation and inhabitants from younger generations. In contrast, Berlin and Hamburg have plenty of innovative minds and start-ups, but less living and development space. There is an obvious opportunity given that work is becoming increasingly digitalised and location-independent. These two opposing development paths were taken up and brought together in this project, to generate benefits for all sides.
A CO-WORKING SPACE TRANSFORMS THE TOWN
As part of a competition, twenty digital workers from major cities such as Berlin, Hamburg and Zurich were selected. These pioneers were able to test life in Wittenberge for one year. They were housed in discounted, furnished living spaces with internet, and had access to a specially equipped co-working space. Since June 2020, the remaining ten digital workers have formed a community which now has around 100 members. So far, three start-ups have developed, a permanent co-working space has been created and the City Salon Safari - a place for culture, participation and communication - has been established as a permanent fixture in the city centre.