Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg is the oldest and largest university in the state of Saxony-Anhalt. The campus is located in the historic centre of Halle and hosts late classicist and neo-classicist buildings along with edifices from the Wilhleminian era. After the German reunification the ensemble was to be modernised in two steps.
Up to then the site was no more than a passageway between the street and campus buildings. The first measures to be taken were to establish visual axes and to structure the topographic levels of the place with its total of 10 metres difference in elevation.
The main design element of the square is a 63 metre wide flight of steps that connects the downward sloping campus to the old town’s narrow streets. These generous stairs form an integral part of the campus’s concept as a public space and setting for urban life. The steps as well as a long bench of black-coloured concrete serve as a meeting point and communication medium. As long as the weather allows students and citizens of Halle use them to relax, read, meet friends, or watch passers-by.
The contemporary surfaces of the concrete bench and the stairs contrast the recycled cobblestone pavement of the square, just like the classicist façades face the modern glass front of the new architecture. All in all the square’s design itself is rather restrained – empty and open – in order to emphasise the historical structures of the site, while formulating a clear urban quality.