Rural development

Umgebindeland | DERREG


The Umgebindeland initiative is organized as Kooperationsverbund (cooperative network) between the counties in the border triangle DE PL-CZ and the Euroregion Neisse-Nisa-Nysa. First attempts to organise the conservation of the Umgebinde houses dates back to 1997, when the first cross-border agricultural development concept was worked on by Czech and German municipalities in the region. Based on the positive experiences within this process, a development cooperation called ‘Sächsisch-Böhmische Umgebindelandschaft’ (Saxon-Bohemian Umgebinde landscape) was established.

Furthermore, in the early 2000s, several hundreds of citizens were asked for their visions about the future of the County of Görlitz. In this survey, the Umgebinde houses were one major topic. So, since 2002, a volunteer work group was established which resulted in an integration into the county’s administrative structure (Umgebinde office with staff employed at County Administration). In 2003, the current Umgebindeland initiative started to work on different projects in order to develop the Umgebinde house and its construction culture as an endogenous development potential and an anchor for cross-border identification with the border triangle region.

First, a regional development concept was drafted, which includes a ten-point action plan to conserve the Umgebinde house construction knowledge and to renovate the existing buildings. An experts’ group was founded (Fachring Umgebindehaus); an Umgebinde information centre was inaugurated in co-operation with the University of Applied Sciences Zittau-Görlitz (offering expert knowledge to interested citizens, house owners, and tourists); an Umgebinde tourist label was established – ‘Urlaub im Umgebindehaus’ (Holidays in the Umgebinde house), which should help tourists find original accommodation; an internet platform was established which presents both Umgebinde houses as well as information about renovation funding and relevant renovation experts; a rescue fund was established in order to renovate decrepit buildings; cultural events such as the Visiting Day for Umgebinde houses or the Award Ceremony for good examples of Umgebinde house renovation are organized, prized by Umgebindehaus Foundation; the UNESCO World Heritage status was applied for; specialized commercial campaigns seek to attract wealthy persons’ investment into Umgebinde houses renovation; and social and youth work projects are initiated in order to teach young and unemployed the culture and techniques related to these houses. Finally, all activities are intended to take place across the borders, in co-operation with Czech and Polish partners.

The Umgebindeland network could be considered a good example of a regional development concept as it takes up a region-specific cultural topic: namely this tradition of constructing houses. However, it does not only use this topic in terms of tourist marketing. It added other topics like general regional development, social work, preservation and transfer of historic knowledge, cross border cooperation, and services like expert consultations, sales support, funding information. All these activities are based on the topic ‘Umgebinde houses’ but they serve more general goals for the region.