Freiburg’s Tolerance Pillar

  • Since 2009 the city of Freiburg in South Germany has a tolerance zone. On the Augustinerplatz in the center of the city, a perplex pillar spreads colorful light and the message of tolerance.

    Interesting is the way this pillar is used. It looks to work as a sign for people to sit, drink, smoke and make music on the square during warm summer nights. I don’t have any idea what the legal status of the pillar is. Does the pillar mark a zone where ‘abnormal’ behavior is allowed? Are formal rules less heavy here?

    According to a German newspaper the sign hopes to stimulate local youth to behave a bit more quiet while sitting and drinking on the square surrounded by family houses. The ‘Säule der Toleranz’ is switched off most of the day. At 8 PM it turns totally green, which means activity such as drinking and making music is allowed. Slowly it changes color. At 11 PM the whole pillar is colored red, which means that any loud activity is forbidden. As far as my one night observation goes, the pillar doesn’t work for this last bit. It’s used as an argument to use Augustinerplatz as an open air pub, with a great atmosphere stressed by cosy red light. Which makes it a great place.