Design Studio
Fall 2022

Energy and CommonsIt’s My Business: Becoming an Energy CommunityTimon Droll, Charis Gersl, and Flavio Thommen

The village of Holzweiler is located east of the city of Erkelenz in the state North Rhine-Westphalia. Laying in the original Garzweiler II mining area, a surface mine used for mining lignite, the village was to be relocated. But in 2016, the NRW state government decided to reduce the size of the mining area and Holzweiler could remain. The population of Holzweiler became active in forming associations to protect their village, to fight against their relocation and to encourage community life.
Because of the active community and their chance to rebuild their village and rethink their way of living Holzweiler is an interesting case study to engage within the topic of energy independence.

In the centralized system common today the grid is privately-owned, controlled by a few and consumed by the most. This makes communities dependent on the grid and their surroundings. In Holzweiler the energy infrastructure and the dependencies coming with it are not yet a topic the inhabitants engage with. This calls the relationship between energy infrastructure and people into question.

In the context of analysing the grid, its history and posing questions about energy autarky and ownership, a fictional story gives a better understanding of what is needed to encourage people to think about other possible systems.


Elevation: 93 m.a.s.l.
Surface: 11.79 km2
Population: 1,386 inh. (31.12.2020)
Population density: 118 inh./km2