Community house

The culture garden

Visiting the public culture garden at 18 Prießnitzstraße pays off not only because of the outdoor gastronomy during the warm months. Here you can sit under ambergris, flower alder, woodbine, and wild plum in the green. The view opens up to the Prießnitz burbling along the fringes of the redevelopment area. In some years, trout and beavers bustle about in the little river.

In the summer of 2002, the floods at the river Elbe caused backwater into the Prießnitz. The community house and its outside areas were damaged badly. The residents were fighting the slowly but surely rising water in vain.

The tedious clearance of the flood’s aftermath was funded. However, in 2013, the Prießnitz flooded the premises again, causing severe problems.

Thanks to the internal efforts of the society “Stadtteilhaus e.V” – as after the arson attack in 2004 – and a sufficient building insurance, the community house was able to re-open soon. The voluntary and unvoluntary help of the society members and users of the house have always offered the chance to create something together, to get involved and thus to grow together.

The users

Just like the river sometimes foams over and sometimes dries out, the community house (“Stadtteilhaus”) is subject to constant change. The varying users have to make the house their own and defy adverse conditions again and again.

Since 2002, the funding provider “Stadtteilhaus Dresden - Äußere Neustadt” has been offering space to various initiatives, taking into special consideration their social commitment and contribution to the community. The tenants are both permanent and temporary residents.

Events for public participation, such as the citizens’ workshops for the forward projection of the redevelopment concept for the area “Äußere Neustadt”. The building had been lodging the community office of the Urban Planning Office and the city redevelopment company Stesad Ltd. for a long time.

For many years, pantomime Ralf Herzog was running the theatre “Wanne” (bathtub) on the ground floor. It still serves as a venue, mostly for theatre projects, such as the puppet show “Puppets to power” in cooperation with the Cech town Dolni Poustevna since 2010. The society cultivates a close cooperation with the surrounding schools, too.

At the moment, the societies “Bürger Courage” (civil courage), “Gerede” (chit-chat) and “Gemeinsam länger lernen” (learning together for longer) take lodgings here; the foundation “Äußere Neustadt” meets here regularly. Children, youngsters and adults train themselves in sculpturing with clay in the pottery studio. Societies such as “Sukuma arts” and “Akifra” as well as the ecological collective “Futterkiste” (food box) call this building their home.

Moreover, the society serves as a centre of documentation with a district archive, it runs a little museum for the “Bunte Republik Neustadt” (colourful republic Neustadt, BRN) and coordinates important components of this community festival.

The history of the house

In 1867 already, the so-called “Louisenbad” was situated here, also known as “Dittmanns Kurbad” or “Brettschneiders Kur- und Wannenbad”. It served as a public bath for the residents of the districts, since most flats didn’t have neither bathtubs nor showers, not even warm water, up to the end of the 1960s. Today the layout of the booths is still visible by the structure of the floor tiles in the basement. In 1989, the last tenant moved out. The abandoned building from 1895 went rack and ruin.

The time of political change

In 1991, the citizens’ initiative “Interessengemeinschaft Äußere Neustadt” (community of interest outer new town, IG ÄN) pointed out the vacancy and with friends occupied the building at the “Bunte Republik Neustadt” (BRN), with spontaneous gastronomy and cultural events. For the duration of the festival weekend this was tolerated. Peer Alexander van Martens filled the former bathrooms in the basement with art. A stage stood in the yard, on the first floor a coffee shop was sparsely put up with found furniture, the ground floor served as a gallery. Former bookseller Kurt, at his time a well-known Neustadt homeless, who traded books for booze, held daily readings and from time to time slept off his drunkenness here.

At the time, several non-commercial groups with the common welfare in mind were looking for free public spaces and registered their interest in using the building, which met their expectations. Thus, the idea of a community house owned by the state capital Dresden and managed by citizens was born.

In 1993, the Stesad Ltd. finally managed to buy 18 Prießnitzstraße from the numerous individual heirs. What followed was an emergency renovation, including a gutting of the building. From the players of the IG ÄN, the “IG Prießnitzstraße 18” (community of interest 18 Prießnitzstraße) was established and was given a licence agreement.  It ran a small coffee shop and provided events and exhibitions in the still unrenovated house. From first planning in 1995 up to the opening in 1998, the community of interest worked closely together with the planners, so that the reconstruction met the upcoming tasks. The conservation of many beautiful architectural details wouldn’t have been possible without the tremendous individual contributions of this community of interest.

The foundation of the society

On January 29th 1997, the society “Stadtteilhaus Dresden Äußere Neustadt e.V.” (community house Dresden outer new town) was established on the grounds of the community of interest. Managing and using the reconstructed house as well as actively taking part in further reconstruction and maintenance became its tasks.

Fundamental aims were and still are integrating different groups of age, social background and nationality, initiating social and cultural learning processes with diverse and innovative projects as well as promoting cultural and artistic activities.

In times of social and cultural upheaval, the community house was supposed to be a place of creating a sense of identity and community spirit. The society wanted to help preserve and determine cultural, social and moral values that may carry the life together in the future.

Therefore, the society invited all initiatives of the “Äußere Neustadt” to a workshop in the cultural centre “Scheune” (barn) in order to develop a utilization concept for the community house. Each initiative that wished to move in was asked to help with the interior fittings. Based on this concept, the supporting association was given a permission of use in 1997, and in 1998, after the reconstruction of roof, windows and outside walls, a lease agreement that rests upon the concept of self-administration fixed in a statute. In accordance with the trustee of the municipal properties, the society assumed the interior fittings, including media and proportionately funded with means of urban development.

And today?

In 2021, the large retaining wall, in danger of collapsing, was reconstructed in collaboration with the owner of the adjacent premises at 16 Prießnitzstraße. Therefore, parts of the beer garden were closed. In 2023, it will be accessible again

Because of the special work, essential for the district, the community house has been supported by the City Administration for many years. It is unique and at the same time a model for houses in other parts of the city that are in planning or implemented already.

No. 18 Prießnitzstraße


Site Plan