Building against the demographic trend

Interview with Fritz-Peter Schade and Rando Gießmann

"I couldn’t possibly have expected the building at Jüdenstraße 8 to turn out as well as it has."
Fritz-Peter Schade managing director (retd.)

"In Wittenberg, urban redevelopment works in textbook fashion."
Rando Gießmann managing director of WIGEWE Gesellschaft für Wohneigentum mbh Wittenberg

How did the project to redevelop the former school at Jüdenstraße 8 as “CAMPUS IN CAMPUS” come about?


Fritz-Peter Schade: After years of disuse, the right factors and the right people came together. The school, which was built in 1828, was closed in the 1930s and converted into makeshift flats. By the early 1990s it was in a catastrophic state, and in 1994 the last tenants moved out. We looked for investors from then on, but it was impossible to find a financially viable use for it. It wasn’t possible to convert the four-metre high classrooms into reasonable flats. The idea for the Colleg project came up in a brainstorming session with the tour operator, who for years had rented our guest apartments for American students.

So the former school will be lived in after all?

Rando Gießmann: The classrooms will be seminar rooms and the professors will live in what used to be the teacher’s flat. What’s important is that were we able to find usages, which suit the historic substance.

Fritz-Peter Schade: Our approach to usage and to renovation has really set an example. After years of looking for a solution, I couldn’t possibly have expected the building to turn out as well as it has, with the rendered brick façade and the sandstone detailing around the windows. And the concept of letting foreign students study and live here for the length of their courses sets an ideal example for the IBA.

What role did the IBA play in the project?

Rando Gießmann: Without the IBA’s support, none of it would have been possible, and any investment would have receded into the distance. The IBA and the funding associated with it made the investment viable.

Fritz-Peter Schade: Before the IBA, our best prospect for a reasonable usage was an educational institution from Berlin, but this then decided in favour of Halle instead. We had to pull out of a sale to another interested party because their plans just weren’t viable.

How does the Colleg work?

Rando Gießmann: The building at Jüdenstraße 8a belongs to WIGEWE, and we’ve let it to a tour operator for ten years. This is now moving its headquarters from Braunschweig to Wittenberg, and flats for the tour operator’s employees will be set up in the building. These will be managed by WIGEWE. It’s a risky undertaking both for our communal enterprise and for the tour operator. Of course it’s in the city’s interests that the Colleg, as “CAMPUS IN CAMPUS”, will attract 44 young people to the town as temporary residents. As such, we’re countering the demographic trend, building for young people and renovating according to their needs.

With the Wilhelm Weber House at Schlossstraße 10 the WIGEWE takes part in a second IBA project, “SCIENCE IN CAMPUS”. Why?

Fritz-Peter Schade: Because it means that the building will be saved. The idea was that WIGEWE would manage it until the Leucorea takes over. There were delays, and the costs of maintaining the Renaissance building were rising steadily. We failed to find investors. Through the IBA and with the Centre for Science Wittenberg as a tenant, it’s possible for us to invest ourselves. To my mind, the fact that WIGEWE is able to independently wrap up and then operate the project is especially positive.

Rando Gießmann: The Centre for Science Wittenberg will move into the first and second floors in late 2010 on a 25-year lease. There are two commercial units on the ground floor. The IBA has not only contributed significantly to the preservation of the buildings at Jüdenstraße 8 and at Schlossstraße 10, but also to the long-term enhancement of the town centre and of Wittenberg as a place of education. With the IBA, Wittenberg will attract more attention, from which the municipal housing associations will profit too. The IBA projects stimulate urban redevelopment in general, and in my view urban development in Wittenberg works in textbook fashion.

Info: Lutherstadt Wittenberg

(Municipal Area of 2010)
1989: 65.669
2009: 50.113
2025: 38.924 (Future Prospect)

Municipal Area: 240,32 qkm

Website Campus Wittenberg