Connecting Contrasts: The Stadtraum Bayerischer Bahnhof

Landscape

We are five students studying economics at University Leipzig. For this year’s semester project we are investigating the Stadtraum Bayerischer Bahnhof focusing on the Lößniger Area. As none of us had been to the site before, we were very curious to see what the project would be about and did not know what to expect. After visiting the site we collected our impressions on this Mural and we were soon left with the question: Is this place worth transforming it? 

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From Tracks to Trails

First footsteps on the research site “Lößniger Area”

a small, pedestrian only entrance to the Lößniger Area from the Lößniger Straße with overgrown plants and a dirt trail
View from Lößniger Area to Lößniger Straße

We are a group of 6 students of the University of Leipzig. We are working on a semester project called “Stadtraum Bayerischer Bahnhof”, specializing in the “Lößniger Area”. In this article, we report about our first gathering on the research area, focusing on public spaces and streets. We are documenting the current state of the area and investigating our feelings and emotions about it. We want to invite you to come along on our journey. Whether you are completely new to the area or already familiar with it.

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Stadtraum Bayerischer Bahnhof – connecting or separating people?

The ‘Stadtraum Bayerischer Bahnhof’ at the moment

We are five students from the University of Leipzig. This semester we are working on the project ‘Stadtraum Bayerischer Bahnhof’ located in the south-east of Leipzig. To get a first overview of the people in the urban space and all the bordering districts we decided to go for a walk and have a look at the surroundings and the different people we see and meet. We also asked ourselves what meaning the area has for people at the moment and if it connects or separates them. We would be happy if you would join us on our journey of getting to know, planning and discussing the ‘Stadtraum Bayerischer Bahnhof’.

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From Germany’s oldest terminus to a modern living district

In 1841 Germany’s very first railway started from the train station “Bayerischer Bahnhof” in Leipzig. Now, 180 years later there is a new development plan for the surrounding area. In the highly fluctuating city Leipzig this project aims to combine living and working for people of all ages. Which impact will the rising and already existing buildings as a part of the planned mega project have on the site until its completion in 2027? 

The train station “Bayerischer Bahnhof” is a historically important functional site in the city of Leipzig. In the construction project, the function of the station is now being renewed from the ground up. According to the city of Leipzig, 36 hectares will be filled with 1600 new apartments, day care centers for 330 children and three schools. In addition, open and recreational areas for people are to be created, as well as an area for offices and other commercial use. 

We picked up our Journey at the south-east end of the site. Here, the former „Lok-Schuppen“ (1) is hidden away behind a protective curtain of smaller trees and bushes; ivy and scrubs have broken through the old shindles of the roof. „Lok-Schuppen“ translates to locomotive-shed and resembles the only still existing building next to the Porticus, that was originally a part of the old train station complex. Nowadays the shed gives off the vibe of an urban lost-place. Graffitis on the brick-stone walls and skaters repurposing the old rails and ledges represent the new forms of urban appropriation taking place on the premises.

We continued our journey by entering Lößniger district. Looking towards the west, our first impression of the area turned out to be very chaotic and diverse in its appearance.
On site you can see the oldest techno club in east Germany, the “Distillery”(2), which is located opposite the massive residential blocks of Kurt-Eisner-Straße. With the misshapen structures and contorted stone walls it is hard to imagine that this area could be transformed into a calm and tamed space for living. Paths and access-ways are partially restricted and closed off.

As we walked behind the “Distillery” we discovered walls and scales clad in ivy. 
This space creates a mystic and bewitched atmosphere, which awakens a strange feeling in us.
Passing by small trees and bushes, we entered Lößniger Straße, which is bristled by an array of small sheds (3). Those appear to have not been in use for a long time.

At Alfred-Kästner Straße we found a dealership (4) for iron scrap, metal and recycled paper. This store is surrounded by the remainders of concrete constructions with missing windows and deserted rooms. While entering the scales we felt lost, desolated and a bit scared. 

Afterwards we walked further north up to Schenkendorf Straße and spotted a chimney (5) with a length of roundabout four to five meters, which immediately caught our eye in comparison to the rather plain architecture of the whole area. The buildings with only one existing ground floor have visually been taken back by nature.
Our journey ended close to the junction of Kohlenstraße and Körnerstraße (5). There is a very strong contrast between the ruins on the site and the renovated tenements from the late 19th century and contemporary buildings. 

It will be exciting to observe the development process in the vicinity of Bayerischer Bahnhof. Will the transformation of the site with its old, charming and partially mysterious edifices towards a modern, functionalist and tamed living-quarter succeed? Will the surrounding Leipzigers approve of the radical changes?

In conclusion, the barren and seemingly lifeless region can be classified differently. There are some historically significant edifices that might disappear in order to make room for new buildings. Simultaneously, abandoned places will be renewed, with the possible result of the region benefiting enormously. The project “Bayerischer Bahnhof” perfectly displays how a historical asset, such as a train station can be the basis for a new type of district within a modern city.