Activities for Everyone – Creating a Sustainable Mix of Uses

“The neighbourhood […] is not simply an arbitrary district, but a local micro-world in which many things can be done on foot in one’s own street or around the corner; this results in a sense of belonging that remains anonymous but brings with it responsibility for life in the neighbourhood.”

Feldtkeller, Andreas (2001c): Das Projekt Innenentwicklung – Zurück in die Stadt?, in: Feldtkeller, Andreas (ed.): Städtebau: Vielfalt und Integration, Neue Konzepte für den Umgang mit Stadtbrachen, Stuttgart, p. 34.

Aspects of a sustainable mix of uses

Having gathered initial impressions on-site, we now look at the area’s surroundings in a site and market analysis.

We focus on the development of a successful mix of uses, especially in the areas of art and culture, community infrastructure, and business. We extend our analysis by a macro-analysis of the location of Leipzig and a short characterization of the potential residents. Since there will be a wide variety of residents, we aim to provide adequate activities for everyone.

Image Leipzig – a lively city

According to representative surveys, Leipzig is one of the most popular cities in Germany and has been one of the fastest growing cities in Germany.
This attractiveness is reflected in all areas of life. Economically, socially and culturally.

Leipzig – place to be

On an economic level, this is particularly evident in the absolute number of companies that have settled in Leipzig. In 2017, 4,266 companies from the media and creative industries alone were based in Leipzig, which was 1,225 more than ten years earlier. An upward trend can still be observed.

The most important players that make Leipzig an attractive location are Mitteldeutscher Rundfunk (Central German Broadcasting) and the German National Library, which has one of its total of only two locations in Leipzig. An upward trend in company settlements can be observed in all other areas of the economy. The reason for this is the good infrastructure in Leipzig.

Appealing at all levels

In addition to all these hard location factors in Leipzig, however, the city can shine with a number of soft location factors.

Particularly important for the city’s good image are various green spaces, a distinctive arts and culture scene (from the Gewandhaus and the opera to a large club scene and various festivals) and a low cost of living compared to other major German cities.

The rising population, which has been observed in Leipzig for years, comes primarily from a high gross influx. Educational institutions, such as the University of Leipzig, and various universities are a decisive pull factor.
This explains Leipzig’s population structure, which is primarily characterized by young people and families. The average age in 2019 was 42.4 years, which is below the average for Germany as a whole of 44.5 years.
Also due to the population structure, the cultural scene has an important place in Leipzig’s city life. This includes both the classical cultural scene, with the Gewandhaus, the opera and various museums, as well as creative open spaces and various festivals that shape the cityscape and the arts and cultural scene.

Home for Everyone

According to its online presence, the project sponsors’ goal is “to create a home for all ages and lifestyles.” In this context, a lively and supportive living environment can help transform a simple apartment into a home. However, different lifestyles naturally require fundamentally different types of activities in the process.

The goal is therefore to offer a range of activities in the Lößniger Area that are inclusive to everyone and, at best, allow people of different lifestyles to interact.

The post “Strengthen participation – rethinking neighbourship!” highlights the current social structure in the surrounding neighbourhoods. Accordingly, mainly young people and students inhabit the surrounding neighbourhoods.
Based on the city of Leipzig’s citizen survey 2019, a mix of uses that is as attractive as possible for all of Leipzig’s residents should be derived.
This means that the planning must take into account not only young people and students, but also other population groups such as parents and senior citizens.

Mixed-Use Area

After a comprehensive analysis of the conditions in Leipzig and in the neighborhood, the need for an optimal mix of uses emerged for us. To achieve this in the best possible way, we have divided the benefits into core and additional benefits.

According to our definition, the core benefits of a neighbourhood are living, working and consuming food. The core benefits are derived from Maslow’s physiological needs. All other benefits are additional benefits, which are partly derived from the pyramid of needs.

The Lößniger Area is defined as a mixed-use neighbourhood (not a purely residential, consumer or working area). It is about social coexistence and sustainable living, designed by the urban planners and above all by the residents of the neighbourhood.
The goal is to create a lively neighbourhood with short distances, bicycle and pedestrian traffic. The right combination of affordable housing, a wide range of innovative jobs and many activities in the public space is the quality of urban life: working and living without spatial differentiation with the possibility to meet each other.

In the following sections, we focus on the additional benefits and the accompanying occupations and distribution of the 7,500 m² of neighbourhood-originated commercial space.
We analyze the surrounding neighbourhoods to find out which activities are present and where are still possible needs. Our focus is primarily on the arts and cultural scene, social affairs  and economic factors.

One building, multiple uses – Living, working and spaces that encourage interaction

Arts and Culture

Arts and culture include an abundance of topics. That is why we have focused our analysis mainly on gastronomy, club culture, theater, dance, cinema and opera, art halls and museums.

Leading from Südvorstadt to Connewitz, one finds Karl-Liebknecht-Strasse. Here a pub, café, cabaret and retail scene has developed. By bike about 7 minutes from the Lößniger Area you are quickly in the action. 
Due to the 1,300 planned apartments, we do not expect a nightlife district to establish here. The focus is on smaller cafes and bars to briefly exchange ideas during the lunch break or after work.

As can be seen on the map below, theaters and opera houses are located primarily in the city center and in the west of Leipzig. For a comprehensive analysis of the cultural scene, it is, therefore, necessary to consider the entire city area. Sporadically, smaller off-stages can be found in the east and south. The closest theaters are the Cammerspiele in Werk2 and Schauspiel Leipzig. The situation is different for cinemas, where several can be found on Karl-Liebknecht-Strasse. The attractiveness of Leipzig as a location comes from the many art and culture professionals. We can imagine a venue for theater, dance, and cinema here.

Permanent but with changing exhibitions, an art gallery has potential. Again, there are many art halls in the west and in the city center. You can find the Museum of Fine Arts, the Gallery of Contemporary Art, the Museum of City History, the Forum of Contemporary History or the Museum of Natural History. If you look for possibilities to spray legally or experience graffiti art there is only the Graffiti Hall in Werk2. There is great potential for an open air gallery or a sculpture path, something like this does not  exist yet in Leipzig and could become a unique selling point. 

Arts and Culture in Covid-19 Times

This would also be a solution for “pandemic compliant events”. There is hardly any cultural space that exists outdoors. In general, there are hardly any activities that one can exercise without consuming. Further thoughts on this: Column by Margarete Stokowski (in german).
At this stage we can not say what the art and cultural landscape in Leipzig will look like after Corona. But we can say with probability that smaller galleries, pubs, art halls and theaters will disappear and the space will become smaller, more expensive and more exclusive.

Mapping of activities in the arts and culture sector

Public and Community Infrastructure

To promote social interaction in a neighbourhood, it is helpful to have facilities that foster a suitable framework for active interaction among local people.

The focus is on daycare centers for children, family centers and youth centers, especially for young families. They offer a place where intercultural exchange is wanted and actively promoted.

In the areas around the Lößniger Area, in the Südvorstadt and in the Zentrum Süd-Ost, there are a total of 20 childcare facilities. Among them there is no family center. This would be a starting point for the new neighbourhood. A family center would contribute significantly to better interaction, especially among young families in a new neighbourhood.

For other target groups, for example young adults and students, there should be offers and facilities for social exchange in a neighbourhood. Neighbourhood cafés, but also do-it-yourself workshops or urban gardening opportunities are suitable for this. Currently, there is one do-it-yourself workshop for bicycle repairs in the neighbourhood. Otherwise, the offer in this regard is still very small.

About 25% of the population in Leipzig is older than 60 years. This target group must also be taken into account in urban planning considerations. In order to promote social activity among this target group, senior citizens’ meeting places are particularly suitable. There are various offers for this in the entire city area, but in the neighbouring areas of our neighbourhood a below-average frequency can be seen.

In order to enable and promote social interaction between the target groups, offerings such as neighbourhood cafés or sharing platforms must open to all.

Mapping of activities in the social affairs sector

Retails

The central location of the Loessniger Area, combined with the large number of apartments being built in the surrounding area, naturally brings with it a great deal of economic potential.

A general picture of the surrounding area shows that the Süd-Ost center offers a much lower retail density than surrounding districts. For example, Südvorstadt has more than double the number of stores with 5,000 m² less floor space:

Neighbouring districts:
Südvorstadt: 9.492 m2
Zentrum Süd-Ost: 14.170 m2
Neighbouring districts:
Südvorstadt: 138 companies
Zentrum-Südost: 61 companies

This suggests that there is great potential in the retail sector in the Lößniger Area as well. Based on the neighbourhood structure of Karl-Liebknecht-Strasse, the Lößniger Area should offer enough space for commercial activity.

Supermarkets are located adjacent to the neighbourhood. With the Rewe on the Straße des 18. Oktobers, some delicatessens in the north and several Konsum Leipzig stores, there are already target group-specific shopping opportunities. However, we consider it an advantage if another grocery store would open in the middle of the area to allow for shorter walking distances.

In order to combine social interaction with economic benefits, it makes sense to integrate commercially used space with residential space. Employees in the area benefit from virtually non-existent commutes. In turn, restaurants and other businesses benefit from local residents as customers. The social interaction and the surrounding park areas create an attractive working environment.

Mapping of activities in the economic sector

Conclusion and Outlook

Sustainable urban development and a mix of uses play an increasingly important role in neighbourhood planning. We have been searching for projects that combine a mix of uses, urban coexistence and sustainability and have come across the following projects:

The International Building Exhibition Vienna with its focus on New Social Housing has set itself the task of developing groundbreaking solutions and approaches to the challenges of our time. The focus is on social quarters as products of social interaction. Everyday patterns of action and processes are questioned with regard to their topicality and accuracy and, if necessary, renegotiated.

During the research, we became particularly aware of the fact that a mix of uses and sustainability cannot be thought of rigidly. A recurring exchange between residents, stakeholders and urban developers lays the foundation for quality living.
The Hafencity in Hamburg and the development of Südstadt in Tübingen have also inspired us with their mix of uses. 

Lößniger Area

For the quarter we want to try to combine the best of all these examples. The goal is to achieve a mix of different activities that promotes a strong neighbourhood interaction, also between the different target groups, while not excluding anyone. We will focus on what is already sufficiently available in the surrounding areas and where there is still a need to catch up.

In our previous analysis, it became clear that the focus should be on social facilities. In addition, an attempt must be made to locate commercial use in such a way that it fits in well with the surrounding areas. Above all, one should not forget the owner-operated retail trade.
In the area of art and culture, the surrounding area is already well equipped with clubs and restaurants. Therefore, the focus here should rather be on a creative space where theater, cinema or exhibitions are possible, as this can be found mainly in the west of Leipzig. 

Finally, it must be possible to establish a mix of uses that is as inclusive and appealing as possible. This will enable the participation of all population groups, which will promote social coexistence in the neighbourhood.

Head over to our next post about specific concepts for the “Lößniger Piazza”

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