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Horst Schwinger, concierge

‘As concierges, we’re important points of contact here in the neighbourhood, making sure everything is safer and cleaner. We inspect the work of our contractors and make sure our tenants are comfortable,’ he says, on the way from the concierge’s office to the eco-house. Horst Schwinger knows his way around everything here. That goes for the basement of the eco-house in particular, which looks very clean and tidy. In one room, hot water for the apartments is stored in two wood-panelled boilers. Horst Schwinger has to come down here on a regular basis to check out the key stats.

Just upstairs, in the apartments, the heating appears in a very special form: in fact, it doesn’t appear at all, as the radiators are inside the walls. Natural building materials like clay and wood were used in construction for the walls and ceilings.  Solar panels cover the roof.

What do the tenants make of all this? ‘I couldn’t tell you that straight off, but once someone’s moved in, they aren’t quick to move out again,’ says Horst Schwinger, adding: ‘I personally really like the indoor climate created by the wood and clay used to build the house – you can feel it the moment you walk into an apartment.’

Every ground floor apartment also has a garden, and there are also some accessible apartments among the two- to four-bedroom properties. People who wish to live here must hold a certificate of entitlement to public housing [WBS], as the building is still part of social housing. This meant Deutsche Wohnen was able to procure a few apartments for Syrian refugee families. The new tenants received a warm welcome and are happy here. In general, the residents live together in harmony.

Then it’s time for Horst Schwinger, who happens to be a trained shoemaker, to head off on his way again. After all, there’s always something to be done for Deutsche Wohnen’s clients on the Heinrich Böll Estate.