Urban design integration of a historic industrial area

Leipzig „Plagwitz“


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Image: Blick auf den Stadtteilpark Plagwitz - Stand 1998

Source: Stadt Leipzig

Between 1990 and 1992, about 80% of the businesses in Plagwitz discontinued their operations due to the drastic decline of outlets in eastern and central European markets. One by one, the sites and buildings of the industrial location in the west of the city fell into disuse. The industrial and commercial complexes located in the district’s southern parts were in as bad a structural condition as the late 19th century, densely populated residential structures north of Heinrich-Heine-Canal. The preservation, change of use and integration of the historically important architecture was one of the guiding principles of the urban design measure right from the start.

Between 1989 and 1993, the project was funded and evaluated as a model project within the research field “Urban Planning and the Economy” (Städtebau und Wirtschaft) which is an element of the federal research programme “Experimental Housing and Urban Development (EXHUD)” (Experimenteller Wohnungs- und Städtebau).


Project description

Image: Blick auf den Stadtteilpark Plagwitz - Stand 2006

Source: Stadt Leipzig

The revitalization of the Plagwitz district was one of the key development projects to be carried out in Leipzig (pop. 467.000) from the beginning. In order to address the economic structural change, restore the area’s attractiveness and preserve the building stock of outstanding quality, Leipzig council integrated the planning area in a comprehensive urban development concept for the entire city. Today, the „business start-up district“ Plagwitz projects an increasingly positive image and is consciously perceived by the population. The resident association „Bürgerverein Plagwitz” established in parallel in 1991 has ever since actively, but also critically, campaigned for the interests of the residents in the sense of a non-intrusive urban redevelopment. The instrument of urban development contracts being drawn up between the council and individual investors is a reaction to the changed economic situation and by now plays an increasingly important role. Medium-sized businesses and start-ups benefit from the central location near the inner city and its excellent connections to the urban and regional transport network. The residential quality is high, especially near the canal. The district park, playgrounds and catering operations created not only support a lively culture, but also promote variety in the district.

By virtue of its intensive planning activities, the council had formulated the guiding idea for a successful realization very early on: preserving the valuable basic urban structure and integrating listed industrial buildings as well as achieving a mixed use along with the corresponding upgrade of the environment. Following initial difficulties and delays, the restructuring processes in the district finally led to a positive development. Particularly in the eastern section near the city centre, the investment dynamic very quickly intensified.

A district and service centre, a hotel, an office park, as well as retail and catering establishments were housed in the buildings of a former yarn factory (100.000 m² of usable area and hence one of Germany’s largest industrial monuments). Various residential and commercial buildings were newly built. The mainly residential area north of Heinrich-Heine-Canal became a redevelopment area (83 ha) and has largely been renewed and upgraded by measures targeted at the residential environment. Numerous individual projects had an immediate motivation effect for private investors and were hence able to contribute to the acceleration and success of the realization.

The redevelopment of the Heinrich-Heine-Canal (starting in 1993) and the construction of the corresponding footpaths and bicycle lanes, the council’s refurbishment of the fire station “Feuerwache West”, the conversion of the former “Konsum” bakery into an office building, the new construction of the “Elster” housing estate on the site of the former yarn mill and the realization of the “Elster” business park serve as examples for many other such subprojects.

Due to the central location und popularity of the area along the Karl-Heine-Canal in the eastern section of Plagwitz, larger projects developed with relative speed, for example via transforming commercial plots into residential plots. The image change thus created brought about many smaller projects and increasingly gained its own momentum. The council supports this development by the refurbishment of roads and the "Nonnenbrücke" bridge in the district, for example.


Project chronology

Jahr Ereignis
1991 Leipzig council planning workshop with architects, planning teams and residents
September 1991 Foundation of the develpment society " Entwicklungs- und Sanierungsgesellschaft Plagwitz GmbH (ESGP)“
1991 Preservation statute and statute on special pre-emption rights
1992 Start of conversion measures
1993 Elaboration of structural concepts and the outline plan
1993 Inclusion in the EXHUD research field “Urban Development and the Economy, Subject Area Urban Restructuring in Industrial Areas” (Städtebau und Wirtschaft, Themenfeld Stadterneuerung in Gewerbegebieten)
1994 Modification of the preparatory land-use plan (detailed representations of the type of structural use)
1995 Disposition resolution on the legally binding land-use plan; start of new construction measures
April 1995 Statute on the “Urban Design Redevelopment Measure Leipzig-Plagwitz”
1997 Approval of Leipzig participating in the EXPO 2000 with the project “Plagwitz on the Way into the 21st century”
2000 Participant in EXPO 2000
2001 to 2006 Inclusion in the EU community initiative URBAN


Image: Business-Innovation-Center

Source: FIRU mbH

  • Preservation and recycling of industrial building stock
  • Providing location amenities for small businesses via converting large industrial buildings into commercial estates for the settlement of new medium-sized businesses
  • Development of a district centre for Plagwitz by change of use of existing building stock
  • Urban design upgrade for the area and creation of green links as well as an amelioration of the “grey” outward appearance
  • A close weave of housing, employment, utility, recreation, including the corresponding upgrade of the residential environment

Types of measures

Image: Gewerbezentrum Naumburger Straße

Source: FIRU mbH

  • Preservation statute for the protection of the urban design character of Plagwitz and its environs
  • Performance of workshops
  • Urban design development measure
  • Conception for a technology-oriented new use of the site
  • Deep analysis concerning the new settlement of businesses using a typical business location as an example (former tilling equipment producer “Bodenbearbeitungsgeräte AG”) (BBG)
  • Urban development contracts between the council and private investors


Image: Buntgarnwerk 2006

Source: Stadt Leipzig

The model project Leipzig Plagwitz demonstrates how the revitalization of industrial wastelands can be made a success by integrating the planning areas in an overall development concept applying to the entire city. The early and intensive involvement of residents in the decision-making processes needs to be seen as a precondition for the success. This is the way the development and refurbishment objectives were concretized.

The lively inner city quarter envisaged, offering good opportunities for medium-sized businesses and start-ups in the direct vicinity of high-quality residential amenities, is increasingly emerging today. The success is not least based on the strong continuity in the pursuit of a fundamental conception.



  • BBR (client), FIRU GmbH (contractor): Querauswertung von ExWoSt-Modellvorhaben zum Flächenrecycling, 2004 (Lateral Evaluation of EXHUD Model Project for Area Recycling, 2004) (unpublished report)
  • Stadt Leipzig (Leipzig Council), Amt für Wirtschaftsförderung (Business Promotion Department), tel.: 03 41 / 1 23 58 57, email. alohse@leipzig.de
  • Commercial planning and urban development agency „BGS – Büro für Gewerbeplanung und Stadtentwicklung“ :Dokumentation der Modellvorhaben in den neuen Bundesländern, "Städtebau und Wirtschaft" (Documentation of Model Projects in New Federal States, „Urban Design and the Economy“), Dortmund, April 1995
  • Stadt Leipzig (Leipzig Council), Dezernat Stadtentwicklung und Bau (Development and Construction Department): Energy City – Power für Plagwitz (Energy City – Power for Plagwitz), October 2003
  • Internet research: http://www.leipzig-plagwitz.de, http://www.urban-leipzig.de

Further information

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The projekt site ist to be found at postal code: 04229 - town: Leipzig - street: Nonnenstraße.



  • Stadt Leipzig (Leipzig Council), Amt für Wirtschaftsförderung (Department for the Promotion of Trade and Industry), tel.: 03 41 / 1 23 58 57, email. alohse@leipzig.de
  • Stadt Leipzig (Leipzig Council), Amt für Stadterneuerung und Wohnungsbauförderung (Department of Urban Renewal and Housing Promotion), tel.: 0341/123 55 12, email: nraschke@leipzig.de

Record inserted on 07.04.2005 by the Federal Institute for Research on Building, Urban Affairs and Spatial Development (BBSR) within the Federal Office for Building and Regional Planning (BBR).

Last update: 03.07.2014