Interview with Michael Galander

Michael Galander, Mayor of the Hanseatic town of Anklam, on the replacement of the roof of the church of St. Nikolai - “Nikolaikirche.”

„We are greatly pleased with our church roof“

Situated in the north of Germany, the Hanseatic town of Anklam has an interesting story. It was mentioned for the first time in 1243 AD, registered as a town in 1264, and joined the Hanseatic league in 1283. Nowadays there are still a lot of sights that reflect Anklam's interesting history. The most famous person to come from Anklam was Otto Lilienthal, one of the pioneers of flight, who really knew how to give his dreams wings! After the reunification of Germany, this town suffered quite badly, but now it is blooming again. We spoke to the mayor about how this rebirth has been made possible, and what role the Nikolaikirche has to play in that.


Mr. Galander, Anklam is located in a region of poor economic development, and so faces great challenges. What can you do to make sure the town is and stays attractive?

In 2011, we developed a masterplan to rejuvenate the city centre. After the reunification, more than 6000 residents left. In order to reverse this trend, we wanted to create growth from the centre outwards. We had to start to counteract the population loss. We tore down the old block style GDR housing and built attractive buildings in their place, we renovated schools and colleges, spruced up the park and revitalised the market place, to name just a few measures.

How have improving the infrastructure and renovating the buildings paid off for Anklam so far?

Just by creating seating areas around the market has meant that life has returned there. Ice cream parlours, bakeries and shops have come back to the area and also contribute by putting chairs, benches and tables outside in the summer months. In this way, the centre has once again become the beating heart of the town. People have started coming back. After we made the first move and started work here, we found that others joined in, private investors helped to build or renovate apartment and office buildings. Many who had lived on the outskirts have come back to live in the city centre. We see rising visitor numbers. We can only record visitor numbers by simple methods at the moment, but we do see double digit percentual growth. There are more and more cyclists visiting Anklam, too.

In 2011, the church of St. Nikolai was given a new roof. How did Anklam profit from that?

The church of St. Nikolai is becoming our number one tourist attraction. It is unprecedented on the baltic coast, having a tower 103 metres high and a viewing platform at 80m. The church is, even now, a real attraction. The restaurant and shop owners profit from it too. The church will later house the IKAREUM museum, dedicated to Otto Lilienthal, the story of flight and our local history with the Hanseatic league. That will be the icing on the cake. Without the church's renovation and new roof, we wouldn't have been able to use it. It would have rotted away.

The roof was created by HAB. How did you know of the company? Why did you decide on them?

I used to work in construction, and so had worked with the company before, and had good experiences with them. Even after that time, I stayed in contact with their managing director, Andreas Pörsch. I also had only heard good feedback from other companies who had worked with HAB. HAB was the right choice for this project, because it wasn't that easy to carry out. We needed a new, high quality steel roof construction to replace the makeshift roof that had been installed in 2002. We planned to use the existing substructure and just place the new roof on top of that. That was a bad idea, though, as HAB showed us. Not only HAB's good reputation and my own personal experience with working with them played a role in them getting the contract. The tender for the project showed how well the company had prepared to take on the new project. We didn't decide for the cheapest tender, but for the most economical. That was HAB's proposal.

What special challenges had to be dealt with while building the roof? How did HAB manage them?

The wings of the church weren't symmetrical and the building had warped with time. The roof had to be able to deal with these problems. HAB's experts mapped out and modelled the space, and were then quickly able to tell us how we could find a technical solution to the problem. Not many companies are so dedicated to finding solutions. Even our planning office was impressed by HAB's expert knowledge and solutions. We are greatly pleased with our new church roof.

How did you find working with HAB?

Very good. I would completely recommend the company. They employ good specialists and that shows in the construction. They always keep their promises and meet deadlines. It just works. HAB is very well organised. Projects are taken care of from the beginning to end, every i is dotted, every t crossed. They are completely reliable.

A project of this size depends on a lot of organisation and communication. Different authorities stipulations and orders have to be combined into one final idea. How did HAB manage that?

It all worked out just fine. I wasn't involved in every detail myself, but a lot was able to be decided quickly and easily in meetings to discuss the build, where representatives for the authorities were always present. That was because HAB always had good suggestions that they had previously prepared. Of course, there were sometimes problems, as is normal with any build, but HAB always had good solutions ready to deal with them. That's what makes the difference.