District Contrast – How can one build bridges if there are no gorges?

Schwarzplan Bayerischer Bahnhof

At this very moment you are at the Bayerischer Bahnhof that is one of the most central places in Leipzig. Behind the Portikus emerges one of the most spectacular, new architecture projects. Follow us on our journey through time, the neighbouring districts and its contrasts.

The past

1893, the rattling of the locomotives over the steel of the rails, booms in the ears. Somewhere a foreman shouts instructions into a crowd of people. Steam hisses from the boilers of the huge steam engines. The heat of the coal fires continues to burn in the hearts of the stokers. Stronger, faster, further, the pantheon of an industrialized society. The Bayerische Bahnhof in its heyday.

What “districtcontrast” shows

2020, silence. A hole in a fence. Three small steps through. Upon entering the Lößniger Strasse construction site, a wasteland area merges into a panorama of panel buildings. Grey facades pile up to eleven-story giants of simple GDR architecture. They seem cold and bare, almost deserted. Images of the Soviet ghost town Pripyat come to mind. What once stood for the dawning of a new era no longer seems like a place that invites you to live, but like a place where you live because you have to. Graffiti on concrete walls show dreams of escape. These walls become more and more shabby and run-down the further one moves away from the Straße des 18ten Oktobers. Until finally nothing stands as it was. Plants are penetrating the houses and are growing in the historic brick buildings.A suburban train station, whose life cycle has only just begun, mockingly nests in the center of decay. Only the engine shed experiences more appreciation than the rest of the site. Some skaters take advantages of the old facilities and make use of them. The Uni Riese, the glass domes of the Kohlrabi circus, and the MDR building are enthroned like gigantic guards above the former train station.

In contrast to the view into the southern suburbs is completely different. This quarter radiates a familiar homeyness. Bright apartments in old buildings with large windows, and high ceilings alternate with daydreams of modern architecture. Old buildings are lined up next to individual new buildings and from time to time one can spot old converted industrial plant. Turrets and churches form a playful profile, quite different from the high and higher prefabricated buildings of atheistic socialism. It is a place where one feels at home and welcome. One does not expect the anonymity of the big city here, but friendship among neighbours. People greet each other with a smile. If you sat down on a bench and took your time, you could certainly witness appointments for barbecues, birthday invitations, and other friendly chit chats. Children grow up here, safe and sound, play in the playgrounds, grow older, dance in the club and meet the children from the other side.

The Future

2030, New buildings fill up the former emptiness. The Stadtraum Bayerischer Bahnhof manages to build a bridge over the contrast of the quarters. Elements of the 80s are revived by the house fronts of the southern suburb. Glass alternates with colorful facades and light concrete.

But will reality meet our imagination?

Bayerischer Bahnhof / Kohlenstraße Leipzig

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