Once a decaying brownfield drove a wedge into Leipzig’s otherwise densely built-up urban landscape, causing two adjacent neighbourhoods to develop increasingly sharp contrasts over decades of division. A new construction project for a lively neighbourhood in the Bayerischer Bahnhof urban area intends to build a bridge and reunite Südvorstadt and the new building blocks. The Lößniger Piazza plays a central and represents a place of encounter and gathering. We have developed our vision of a possible first-floor design for this project. In the future, among other things, a chess café, a pop-up restaurant or a sports store with a climbing wall could be a popular meeting place for residents of a reunited city.
A perfect game
An important aspect of our design of the area “Lößniger Platz” should create an integrative and lively atmosphere. It is probably the easiest way to bring people together by playing games. Accordingly, you find a game café with a focus on chess in the grey marked building VII.
Chess, because it has the characteristics of a perfect game – it is timeless, easy to learn and difficult to master. The rules are always the same. What matters is one’s intelligence and ability to see through the opponent’s strategy and outsmart him with skilful manoeuvres.
At the same time, the chessboard provides an intuitive design that continues throughout the café. One can discover it in the tables, which one can use as a chessboard simultaneously. Cocoa (black) and marzipan (white), for example, create a unique chess theme, often based on the appearance of the knight, the king, the pawn and co. The highlight is a large chess set. Figures up to 95 cm high allow a new perspective for the interested strategist. In the evening, one can clear away the figures and make room for mini-events such as quiz evenings, stand up comedy or live music.
But to what use is the best game if the seating is uncomfortable and glaring light is blinding you? A café should be a cozy place to relax, where you can shake off the stress with warm cocoa after a long day of work in winter. A dark brown walnut parquet floor synergizes with olive-green armchairs and copper lamps, which, in addition to the daylight coming through a glass front, provide warm orange lighting. Inscribed chalkboards and a glass counter filled with fresh cake selections complete the look. In summer, you can also enjoy a delicious ice cream in the lively outdoor area under a weather-protected arcade.
Where work meets community
A coworking space finds place adjacent to the corner café in House V+I. The idea is to continue the motto of openness and living togetherness. The location next to the café enables a smooth transition between concentrated work meetings and casual conversations during the coffee break.
Similar to many university libraries, the coworking space includes both open and closed work areas. As one can see in the illustration, glass walls mainly serve as partition elements in this area. Hence, quiet working and the exchange among each other is possible. Daylight floods through the glass windows and creates a bright atmosphere.
Plants and chess – these two elements unite the facade of building V+I. Taking up the chess café motto, we want to integrate a green wall. By alternating planted and unplanted squares, an impression of a chessboard appears. However, green facades are not only a visual highlight by providing an eye-catcher in the Lößniger Piazza. It also has more far-reaching advantages. Heavy greening improves the air quality of the surrounding area. For example, 1 m2 of facade produces 1.7kg of oxygen per year. Moreover, on hot summer days, the green wall reduces the ambient temperature by about 3°C. Plants in the workplace also provide increased work productivity which has a positive impact on the coworking space.
Get together in a culinaric way
On the opposite side of the square, we want to integrate a pop-up restaurant. An open kitchen forms the centre of the restaurant. By a frequent change of the cuisine and restaurant concepts, any interested party gets the opportunity to show oneself and to try out new ideas. Residents and visitors can enjoy new delicacies. The short distance to the coworking space allows all working people to enhance their lunch break with culinary delights. We also plan to place a quick and fresh takeaway cuisine spot. For an easy get-together, a passageway leads to the inner courtyard (subarea 5+6). Here, the restaurant’s outdoor seating is located. The idea is, to process the regional groceries from the “Super Supermarket” directly in the restaurant. The possible handover of individual recipes enables guests to recreate their favourite dishes at home.
To ensure a transition to the supermarket, a graffiti runs along the façade with a uniform design. It represents different dishes and foods in a modern kind of way.
The lively “Super Supermarket”
The “Super Supermarket” (purple) turns a stressful workday routine into a shopping experience.
In addition to the retail space, there is a lively outdoor area where changing merchants can offer their wares. On the facade, artists have sprayed a high-quality, atmospheric food graffito, with a smooth transition to the pop-up restaurant.
Inside, the first innovation of the Super Supermarket is immediately eye-catching. Products from food start-ups are presented in a prominent place, on the one hand, to give the young entrepreneur a fair chance to enter the competition, but also to reveal one of the supermarket’s greatest strengths directly to the customer: The product variety. It is not about competing with cheap discounters, but about sending the visitor on a voyage of discovery through the most diverse, high-quality foods that are unknown to him. Regional products, where possible, should alternate with exotic products from distant countries. Bio and sustainability are always an important criterion, so among other things also the unpacked thought is taken up. Crooked cucumbers, shrivelled tomatoes or expired canned goods may not end up on sale here either, but they are not thrown away, as usual, but donated to organizations like the Tafel.
To ensure, no one gets lost during one´s shopping trip trained staff are always ready to advise and help. Personal service takes place at the meat and cheese counter as well as at the Life Cooking Station, where chefs demonstrate what one can cook from seemingly unfamiliar groceries. A Candyland, the final highlight is in front of the checkouts. Here, one can choose a colorful selection of sweets, that can be individually wrapped according to your needs and tastes.
Source of Activity
The transparent design of the facades continues at Building VII. This building houses a sports store with a focus on bouldering/climbing. The entrance to the store is directly reachable from the Lößniger Piazza. The two facades facing the piazza and the access road of the piazza are to be glassed. The glassing should create an open space and make the Lößniger Piazza appear less built-up, lively and more free-standing. The facade design-mix of glassing and planting can be found at the chess cafe as well as at the coworking space. Despite different designs, one can recognize our idea pattern around the piazza again and again.
Another focus of our facade design is vertical gardening. In front of the 2nd upper floor, we plan to install a privacy grid that functions as a vertical garden at the same time. To show the theme climbing and bouldering at the facade, the lattice mimics a mountain range. Plants are placed to project a second mountain range onto the façade. Adjacent to the entrance, rectangular wood panelling interrupt the glazed look. Climbing holds placed on top of it clarify the idea of use and conceal the elevator shaft inside the building. (see floor plan)
Due to the sun or privacy protection in front of the 2nd upper floor, it is imaginable that a gym could find space here.
The back of the building will feature a bouldering wall that will be open to the public.
At the back of building VII, a public bouldering wall invites you to try out the newly bought things from the store directly. Two different heights enable both children and adults to climb the wall. Weather protection roofs protect the mats from rain to a large extent. Soft floors under the bouldering wall eliminate the risk of injury. The possibility of public use strengthens the community and promotes togetherness.
A lively vibrant centre
In the urban planning context, a town square should be an open area surrounded by buildings. In addition, the choice of the term puts special emphasis on its function as a flashpoint of public life. Our design for the triangular central square of the Lößniger Piazza intends to fulfil this purpose. However, when thinking about a flashpoint, one cannot avoid also thinking about the people and activities that make up this flashpoint. We, therefore, want to create an area that enables and promotes “togetherness”. Our two central design ideas are shared raised beds and the plaza as a place for activity and relaxation.
Meet and seed
For the area marked in light blue, we designed a green strip with shared raised garden beds. It encourages all ages to try their hand at planting and harvesting the fruits and vegetables themselves. The raised garden beds could either be the city´s property or a garden club could take care of the plants whose members could actively participate. The main idea here is that people meet and talk (possibly about the garden club’s future planting projects). For some residents, for whom the emerging planting areas are not enough, it could still be a lively inspiration to approach the topic of nature and climate awareness. In this way, we tried to add a social component to the idea of urban gardening and embed it in the minds of residents. It could start with a dahlia on one’s balcony that attracts the glances of the neighbours.
Lively relaxing zone
Our second design idea involves the square as a place for lively gathering and joint activities. As a concrete concept, we have worked out an outdoor fitness facility. Sport brings people together, which is why the idea of togetherness is brought into focus, as people can socialize or help each other perform exercises. Another goal should also be to raise awareness for a healthy lifestyle. Besides, the square could be a place of relaxation by inviting people to forget about everyday life. One can relax a furnished lounge corner and a water area, possibly a fishpond. Alternatively, a public barbecue area as a place of exchange and food culture is imaginable.
To achieve the goal of building an urban unity, we want the surrounding buildings to embed in our concept. Therefore the synergy between the sports store and the sports facilities becomes clear. You can buy the necessary equipment in one corner and then experience and try out sports just a few meters away. The concept of raised beds also finds similar expression in the surrounding buildings. Green elements are part of the chess café´s facade that connects with the coworking space.
Where a university project ends and reality begins
Spending the last few weeks looking at the Lößniger Piazza area and the Bayerischer Bahnhof urban space, we believe that our ideas would contribute to a lively neighbourhood. We hope that the project planners have also become aware of the contrasts between the districts during their work. Hopefully, we share the same vision of a place of joy, diversity and gathering. If so, soon, you can comfortably watch the hustle and bustle of the plaza over a coffee and enjoy what has emerged from nothing.