The open spaces south of Bayerischer Bahnhof seem to be one thing above all: barely noticed. The crossing, serving as an extension of Shakespeare Straße, is well frequented by people, otherwise: all is quiet. Only the passing of the S-Bahn trains inside the new city tunnel broke the silence. Since the closure of the old Bayerischer Bahnhof and the dismantling of the tracks, no one seems to use the area. We have seen little reuse by the adjacent neighborhoods. That it is winter and we are in the middle of a pandemic may not be the only reasons. Could socio-spatially polarized neighborhoods and a lack of networks be the central factors?
Who do you see?
Finding access to the open spaces is difficult. Here and there you can see a gap in the fence or a few footpaths. Little indicates that people spend time here. While you can find just some sofas and returnable bottles on the abandoned land on Rosa-Luxemburg-Straße in the east of the city, the people here, in so far as they were here, left hardly anything behind. Sometimes graffiti can be seen on the tunnel ramp and the abandoned buildings, and sometimes some rubbish.
The people we see from time to time come from two groups in particular: joggers and dog owners. Presumably coming from the surrounding residential buildings. They use the partially green open space for exercise in the fresh air.
Missed opportunities of reusing
But where are the other residents in the surrounding neighborhood? Where are the campfires and volleyball courts, such as those you can see on the “Millennium Field”? A similar field in the west of Leipzig. Where are the students? How do they spend their time on the abandoned land on Rosa-Luxemburg-Strasse? Where are the neighborhood initiatives for self-administered projects? For example the Dresden-Hufewiesen open space does have it. Is it only the fences that prevent people from further reusing of the area?
Another possible explanation for the lack of revitalizing is the caesura that forms the abandoned land between the “Südvorstadt” and “Südost” districts, not only in terms of construction and traffic, but also in social-spatial terms. On the one hand, young people, including many students and middle to higher income groups are mostly residing in the Wilhelminian style neighborhood in the Südvorstadt. On the other hand, the adjacent prefabricated concrete slab buildings in the southeast are rather home to social groups that are ascribed to a worse-off position. There is little to be seen of the neighborship that would be necessary for the joint design of open spaces.
Using vs. Active participation
In the southwest of the abandoned land, it is now a question of creating the largest development and use of the urban space: the “Lößniger Straße urban quarter”. The central goal of planning: over 2,700 people are to move into the approx. 1,300 flats. In view of the intended ownership structure and the already completed planning before the start of the so-called “early citizen participation”, it can be assumed that the future area between the Südvorstadt and Südost will continue to be only a dividing wall between two neighborhoods and a mere space of function. It would, of course, be desirable for the planning to be designed in such a way that the current neighborhoods, with the future residents, can actively shape this space and, together, make it their own.
In our following article “Rethinking neighbourhood: overcoming polarization through participation!“, we continue to address the social aspects of the project.