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The university as part of a living urban society
New campus locations, new cycle paths and footpaths, additional green spaces and a traffic concept: The University of Siegen presents the current status of its "master plan".
The relocation of the University of Siegen with two additional faculties to the city center of Siegen is taking shape. Together with Mayor Steffen Mues and Municipal Planning Officer Henrik Schumann, Rector Prof. Dr. Holger Burckhart and Chancellor Ulf Richter gave a detailed account of the current status of the "Master Plan" for the project, which has received national attention. The project includes two new campus locations north and south of the existing campus at Lower Castle, new bicycle and footpaths, additional green spaces and an integrated traffic concept. "It is a project of the century for both the city and for the University of Siegen with a powerful signal effect," Chancellor Ulf Richter is certain. Expected results include the creation of new connections and the opening of the university to the urban community.
The motto: Siegen. Knowledge connects
Formerly known as "University comes to town", the new name of the project is "Siegen. Knowledge connects". This expresses the importance of the university's move for the city, the region and, of course, the university itself. Relocating the university to the heart of the city unites the elements that should go together in a university town: the university and urban society. The central source for all information about the project and citizen participation is the website www.siegen-wissen-verbindet.de.
The new home of Faculty I (Faculty of Philosophy) is being built on the North Campus in the vicinity of Friedrichstraße / Sandstraße. Currently, there are underused areas here; instead of a "backyard atmosphere", the envisaged campus will create a shared zone. The open development is broken up by green spaces. The campus will remain largely car-free, offering more space for pedestrians and cyclists and a more pleasant stay for visitors. The campus offers an attractive added value for the entire city and its population thanks to a carefully designed network of paths. A staircase and a public elevator to the Siegberg directly link the campus to the upper part of the town. The Student Service Center (SSC) will be located in the former "Möbelhaus Wonnemann". The former department store "Hettlage", which the university has acquired, will also play an important role for this campus. It will be the location of the new university library and will act as a hinge that connects the lower and upper parts of the city.
The southern part of the campus is being built in the vicinity of Löhr Gate. It will become the "green lung" of the campus and will house Faculty II (Education, Architecture, Arts). So far, the landscape potential of this area has gone virtually unused. This is to change with the clearing of the Weiß River and the creation of new riverbank areas and green structures. The project will see the creation of new walking routes to the upper part of the city and the surrounding neighborhoods, with special emphasis placed on pedestrian and bicycle traffic. The acquisition of a property from the Vorländer media group in Häutebachweg has also made it possible to plan the new buildings over a wider area – meaning all buildings will be one story lower, fitting harmoniously into the Siegen cityscape.
The planning of the new campus locations supports the city of Siegen in its mobility transition, as the new campus locations will remain largely car-free, providing bicycle-friendly infrastructures. New, attractive bicycle connections will complement the existing urban network. Häutebachweg will be converted entirely into a bicycle street. In addition to a large bicycle / e-scooter garage, two underground parking garages with 200 parking spaces will be built at the Friedrichstraße site. In addition, three parking garages are being built on Tiergartenstraße, Melanchtonstraße, and at the Siegerlandhalle, so the "final mile" to the city center can quickly and easily traversed by bicycle or public transport. A total of 1,370 parking spaces for bicycles will be available, 665 of which will be covered.
Effects for the university and the city
"Over the last 50 years, the demands placed on a university have changed. Whereas the focus used to be concentrated on educational policy, today it is equally placed on education, research and knowledge transfer. By funding this project, the state of NRW is offering us a great opportunity, and I would like to express my gratitude for that," explained Ulf Richter.
"The joint development of the university and the city is something special. As a university, we are part of a living organism which we call society. A shared life is being created here, which will usher in a whole new quality of stay and a whole new quality of life. The decisive factor here is sustainability," as Rector Prof. Dr. Holger Burckhart firmly believes.
Vacancies in the city can be filled and the infrastructure fundamentally renewed, clarified Mayor Steffen Mues. Commuting within the city will also see an overall decrease. The continued existence of the Karstadt department store will be assured for years once the university moves into the building to share use with it. As Mues further explained: "We are changing the city center for decades to come – to the positive. This project can really only be described as an opportunity of the century for both the city and the university. It will have many effects for the development of Siegen, and above all it will reshape the transitions from the lower to the upper part of the city and create new connections for its citizens." Municipal Planning Officer Henrik Schumann shares this conviction: "I am completely convinced of this project. It's a huge opportunity for our city to take the next step."
Following the briefing of the city of Siegen's Urban Development and Building Committee about the current status of the project in May, the master plan is scheduled for presentation to the general public via livestream on June 10. Further participation formats for citizens are to follow for this occasion. Construction could begin in the city center starting in 2024.