Project Lutherstadt Wittenberg

Campus Wittenberg

Lutherstadt Wittenberg has linked its entry to the IBA Urban Redevelopment 2010 to its tradition as a centre of education. The education and research institutes have joined to form the “Campus Wittenberg e.V.” association in order to create a distinctive image for themselves as an international extramural campus in Wittenberg’s town centre.


To do this, not only have joint education and teaching programmes been devised, but also extensive building projects in different locations in the old town have been started. On the one hand, Campus Wittenberg hopes to attract people interested in learning from both home and abroad to become “temporary residents” of the town. On the other hand, there should also be attractive educational provisions for the citizens of Wittenberg.

The Leucorea University was founded as early as 1502 in Wittenberg and gained international renown. Martin Luther worked here, as did his friend, the great humanist and teacher Philipp Melanchthon. Wittenberg became the educational centre of the Reformation, and a total of more than 40,000 students have studied here over the years. Napoleon had the university closed in 1813. Following the Napoleonic Wars and the reorganisation of territories, the University of Wittenberg joined the University of Halle in 1817. However, the university campus in Wittenberg remained closed.


During the 19th and early 20th centuries, the town and surrounding areas went on to become an industrial region. The Reichsstickstoffwerke (imperial nitrogen works) came to nearby Piesteritz in 1915. Other chemical and engineering companies followed. Urban development was mainly concentrated on creating new housing for the employees on the outskirts of Wittenberg. Factory housing for the employees was created; in GDR times this consisted of prefabricated concrete blocks everywhere. The historic buildings in the centre were completely neglected. Hence saving the old town became an important theme for the citizens’ movement. Personalities like Father Friedrich Schorlemmer helped turn Wittenberg into a centre of the peace movement. After German reunification, people concentrated more and more on restoring the historic centre. Since 1993, citizens and town representatives have been continually discussing the latest issues of urban development in town forums. The famous historic sites of the Reformation, such as Luther’s and Melanchthon’s houses, the Schlosskirche (castle church), and Stadtkirche (town church) became UNESCO World Heritage sites in 1996. But some early 20tn-century buildings, such as the employees’ housing estate in Piesteritz and the Gagfah estate, were also extensively renovated. By contrast, some prefabricated tower blocks were demolished.

In the 1980s, the nitrogen works employed over 9,000 people in the former chemical town of Wittenberg. A mixed economic structure has evolved since then. Some of the biggest employers in the region, apart from SKW Stickstoffwerke Piesteritz GmbH (nitrogen company), which now employs only some 770 people, are the local administrative offices, the local hospital, a producer of special vehicles, and a call centre. The unemployment rate is currently 13%. Excluding the surrounding communities that have become part of Wittenberg in recent years, the population of Wittenberg has fallen by about one fifth since 1990. The population will continue to decline until 2025.

Campus Building Blocks


In relation to its size, the town boasts a dense cultural, religious, academic, and educational institution infrastructure. The fundamental idea of the IBA “Campus Wittenberg” theme is the use of this potential. The Campus Association has grown to forty-six members since being set up in 2006. These include the following: the LEUCOREA Foundation of the Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg, based here since 1994; the Foundation for Luther Memorials in Saxony-Anhalt; the Wittenberg Institute for Research on Higher Education (HoF); the Cranach Foundation; the Schloss Kropstädt Education Centre, also Pflug e.V., which runs the Wittenberg History House; the Luther-Melanchthon grammar school; the Wittenberg Centre for Global Ethics; the Chameleon theatre youth club; and the Evangelische Akademie (Protestant Academy) Saxony-Anhalt e. V. Individual partners publish details of their programmes from their own Internet platform, which are sorted by theme; the campus prospectus is also presented. The campus has not only established its own virtual platform in Wittenberg. Its physical presence can be seen in the old town, in the seven important listed historic buildings that have been or will be renovated within the context of the IBA Urban Redevelopment 2010.


The “Cranach Hostel,” an important part of the renovation of the Cranach courtyards in Schlossstrasse 1 ("Werkstatt im Campus"), is already finished. It was here that the citizens’ movement displayed a banner proclaiming, “Where houses fall into decay, people fall into decay too” to draw attention to the catastrophic condition of the painter’s former workplace. An association, later known as the “Cranach Foundation,” was active in this area, and since 1996 has also run an art school. Within the context of the IBA Urban Redevelopment 2010, it has been possible to further develop the courtyards. Now art course participants can stay overnight in the courtyards just like in Cranach’s day.


Only a few minutes’ walk away, in Schlossstrasse 14, conversions and extensions to the administration buildings of the castle have resulted in a 150-bed youth hostel, complete with seminar rooms ("Jugend im Campus"). Between the two is the Wilhelm Weber House, the birthplace of Wilhelm Weber, the German physicist and joint inventor of electromagnetic telegraphy. The Saxony-Anhalt Lutherstadt Wittenberg Centre for Science e. V. offered to taken over the tenancy of the Renaissance building that had stood empty for years. They will move in after the building has undergone extensive restoration work in the course of 2010 ("Wissenschaft im Campus").


The old school for girls is further along the road in Jüdenstrasse. This will be the home of the Colleg Wittenberg from 2010. This “campus within a campus” will house living and teaching rooms for foreign students, mainly Americans, during their study trip to Wittenberg. The WIGEWE real estate company has developed this concept jointly with a tour operator. This tour operator accompanied the chief mayor and the Campus chairman on a tour of the United States to increase public awareness of what Campus had to offer, especially in the Protestant universities. The first few months were quickly booked up. Forty-four students and their professors can live and work here at any one time. In the two buildings, there are also a cafeteria, a kitchen, recreation rooms, and offices to complete the facilities.


The adjacent armoury is also another Campus project. This classical building on Arsenalplatz has been used predominantly for military purposes throughout its two-hundred-year history. It has been vacant since the last Soviet troops moved out in the 1990s. By the end of 2010, following extensive renovation and conservation work, it will house the “Campus Exhibition. In future, part of the town’s collections will be presented here in 1,600 square metres spread over three floors.


The neighbouring ruins of the Franciscan monastery church will probably become the visitors’ centre for the “Seat of the Electors of Wittenberg.” It was originally intended to have a new events centre here, the “Campus Assembly Hall.” However, during archaeological excavations, shortly before building began, Elector Rudolf II’s grave along with the graves of his wife and daughter were found. The use of this building as a “party room” was felt to be irreverent in the light of these finds. The events centre will now be set up in a neighbouring building. Further educational centres such as the former Elector’s castle and the Augusteum as an extension to the extramural “Campus Wittenberg” are planned for the year 2017, the 500th anniversary of the Reformation.

Franziska Eidner, 2010

Construction start for "Campus im Campus", November 11 2008

Presentation "New life in old walls"; bc Architekten + Ingenieure in Zusammenarbeit mit der IBA Büro GbR (German, Flash-Video, 5'12)

More pictures of Lutherstadt Wittenberg


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