A neighbourhood around a square that invites you to linger? As short a distance as possible in the city? Basic services around the corner?
The Lößniger Piazza is the pulsating heart of the entire neighbourhood, a meeting place for young and old. You can hear children playing around the central fountain instead of traffic noise disturbing conversations. Parents sit carefree on benches or on chairs in the restaurant and can eat without worry. Later, they relax and do their weekly shopping. Students arrive by bike via the long-awaited east-west connection across Taro Street and visit the bar. At the neighbourhood centre, you can hear young and old laughing and having fun together. Grandparents don’t have to walk long to get to the nearest bus or streetcar stop and take care of pharmacies and doctor’s appointments in peace. People at work watch the spectacle from co-working offices and look forward to their lunch break under the trees.
The square as a social fabric
In our article, we analysed the condition of the streets, footpaths and public spaces. With the help of further comprehensive analyses focusing on nature or uses and activities, we created a graphic recording and a functional program (see image “Our Functional Program”). These in turn formed the basis for the design of the Lößniger Piazza.
Leipzig is an up-and-coming city and especially the Südvorstadt is very attractive to young families and working people. Adequate infrastructure for older people and seniors also plays an important role in planning. Especially since society is aging due to demographic change. The use of buildings in the Piazza follows the principle of vertical mixing of uses, which is part of the city’s housing policy concept. Thus, there is living space in the buildings as well as space for retail stores and restaurants. This stimulates economic and cultural exchange.
Functions of the Piazza
Public life takes place mainly on the ground floor, whereas the population lives on the upper floors. We identified four categories of public life for the Piazza. The first category is “education and care”, the second is “wage-earning”. Under this, we summarize the supply sector, classic office work but also training opportunities. The aspect of “recreation” is also met. Last but not least, “mobility” plays a major role.
Grocery stores, a bar with an event area and co-working spaces bring life to the neighbourhood. However, the neighbourhood centre is the real centrepiece. It is from here that citizen-oriented neighbourhood management is carried out to continue to respond to the wishes of the residents in the future. Particularly due to ongoing growth and changes in the composition of a neighbourhood, there is a constant need for exchange and negotiation of different positions.
Everyday life in the neighbourhood
The distinctive design of the square and the uses of the various buildings make the Lößniger Piazza a place for daily encounters for the residents of the neighbourhood as well as for visitors.
Naba – a centre that connects
A neighbourhood centre serves to bring several generations together in one place. It is a place of exchange according to the principle “help for self-help”. Our neighbourhood centre Naba – an abbreviation of the word “NachBarschaftszentrum” (Neighbourhood Centre) – is intended to strengthen neighbourhood relations by expanding neighbourhood involvement. Its door is open to everyone.
What exactly is it that makes the Naba so special? There are recreational and cultural activities all under one roof. Specialized workshops offered by volunteers help interested people to refine their skills. A repair workshop enables joint creation. Cyclists can also get repair assistance at the bike repair shop.
A centre for meeting, leisure and cultural activities
The Independent Classroom can be used for all kinds of workshops and other activities. People can use it for smaller group projects, pupils are tutored here. Next door there are soundproof rooms to practice music. In the art studio, people draw, paint, craft or model together. The Big Wall is used to create a collaborative art project on a large scale. Depending on the use, it is regularly exchanged for a new canvas. In addition, the neighbourhood decides on how a part of the space is used via idea competitions.
A fitness room offers group courses in addition to sufficient training equipment. Whether it’s health sports, dance classes or strength-intensive workouts, there’s something for everyone.
In this building, the neighbourhood decides what exactly happens. This is because the occupancy of the premises is controlled via an app and one room is even reserved for an ideas competition. In this way, the Naba promotes the community interaction of the neighbourhood and thus strengthens the neighbourhood relations. But the Naba has many more special features, such as the planned raised beds in the courtyard. What is it all about? Just listen to our podcast and surprise yourself!
The Medical Care Centre
The medical care centre guarantees local health care for the future residents of the neighbourhood. With a pharmacy, a general practitioner and another medical specialist the most important medical needs are taken care of. This is a fundamental component of the supply function of the Lößniger Piazza.
Chastisements like “be quiet” or “behave yourself” are familiar to everyone. The Power Potato restaurant and café offers no room for naughty parents: while the children play in their playroom after finishing their meal, parents can relax and eat both inside and outside.
A square without a bar is unthinkable for many. The Wunderbar brings the square to life in the evening. It doesn’t matter whether you want to have a beer with your friend, partake in a pub quiz or hit the small dance floor. The bar, which has a second-floor platform at the back, is both large enough for the various activities and still cosy enough for a rendezvous.
Mobility for all?
In our last post, we pointed out the poor cycling infrastructure, lack of accessibility and the questionable condition of road facilities. Leipzig has set itself ambitious climate targets. Only with the help of a consistent mobility revolution can the city achieve climate neutrality by 2050. This development is described in the Leipzig Mobility Concept 2030 as the “transformation of the transport landscape into a post-fossil mobility culture”
The city of short distances
Our planning design for the Lößniger Piazza is based on the guiding principle of the city of short distances. The distances between the place of residence, services, local supply and their workplace should be as short as possible for the residents of the emerging quarter. Fewer and shorter routes will permanently reduce air pollution and noise pollution as well as carbon emissions. This corresponds to the motto “Leipzig grows sustainably” of the integrated urban development concept 2030, which aims to create a cosmopolitan, innovative, environmentally friendly and socially stable city.
A liveable neighbourhood around the Lößniger Piazza
Supporting these planning principles, our square is car-free. Thanks to the mix of residential and commercial uses, the good public transport connections and the infrastructure of the public transport system, the residents of the neighbourhood are not dependent on the car as a means of transport (see picture “Our mobility concept”). We have planned a bicycle lane for cyclists, allowing them to easily cover the distance from the park and Lößniger Straße. The rest of the square is a pedestrian zone. To meet the wishes of residents (see article), guiding systems for the blind at intersections, warning signals at traffic lights and Braille at bus stops ensure the greatest possible accessibility. In addition, 4-meter-wide pedestrian walkways enable trouble-free passage with strollers or walkers.
A bicycle garage directly at the Piazza
The public underground garage, located between Späti and the neighbourhood centre, allows cyclists to safely park their vehicles under the Piazza. To prevent the piazza from being clogged with bicycles, the underground bicycle garage should provide a secure space for at least 200 bicycles. The planned underground parking in the quarter will also accommodate 650 cars. With this, we want to ensure that the quarter is well accessible for both, the MIV and the environmental alliance.
Contribution to the urban climate
With the climate change progressing it becomes increasingly important to integrate nature into urban environments. The adjacent district park includes a water area, meadows and trees and is part of a fresh air corridor to the city centre. It thus makes an important contribution to a balanced microclimate but also creates a habitat for insects and other small animals. Therefore, it is especially important to plant vegetation that is friendly to pollinator insects. Street trees and shrubs lining the footpaths, green facades, ornamental grass around the fountain visually enhance the piazza and have a calming effect on visitors.
Function and fun – a contradiction?
Historically, an urban square without a fountain is unthinkable. A city without a supply of drinking water and water for firefighting could not survive. Nowadays, the water supply is underground through the sewerage system. Most of the fountains, such as the Märchenbrunnen at Dittrichplatz or the Pusteblumen-Brunnen at Richard-Wagner-Platz, are located in the western centre and serve only for passing by. Only a small water feature on Grimmaische Straße stands out. This is not enough.
Our fountain design combines central functions for the Lößniger Piazza: With warm temperatures, the large water surface provides increased evaporation. This has the effect of cooling the square and protecting plants from drying out due to the higher humidity. Thus, the fountain has an important urban climatic function. In addition, the elongated and elevated shape of the fountain gives structure to the square. This guides people intuitively. The cycle path runs to the northwest while recreational opportunities open up to the southeast of the Piazza. Finally, the architectural design of the fountain is unique. Its multiple levels combine a water playground for children, seating and an irrigation system for plants. This multifunctionality has the potential to become a landmark.
Lößniger Piazza as local city centre
Our concept shows how important a comprehensive on-site, as well as off-site analysis, is in order to understand and classify existing problems and desires. The implementation of the guiding principle of the city of short distances is essential to achieve the climate goals and improve the quality of life in the neighbourhood. Due to the basic supply possibilities and the wide range of possible activities within walking distance, unnecessary traffic can be avoided. Thus, CO2 emissions can be reduced. The Lößniger Piazza will become the centre of a social neighbourhood where people know and appreciate each other.