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Siegen-Mitte: Bringing the university into the city

Until now, the main campus of the University of Siegen has perched on a 500-metre hill in the district of Weidenau; some refer to it as ‘education hill’, others call it the ‘ivory tower’. What’s beyond dispute is that the university enjoys beautiful green surroundings; the terrace of the Mensa canteen offers great views. The only downside is that central Siegen – with its cafés, shops, twin castles and rivers – is a speck in the distance. The Unteres Schloss campus has now brought part of the university to the city, and soon two more sites will relocate to a central location: the diggers are planning to move in during 2022.

Three sites, one university

Campus Nord will be built in the vicinity of Friedrichstrasse while Campus Süd will be near the Löhrtor gate, both within walking distance of the Unteres Schloss campus. The two new sites will be linked to Unteres Schloss thanks to impressive access plans put forward as winning designs in the town planning competition – firstly by means of a lift to the Oberstadt and secondly via a wide staircase leading from Siegbergstrasse and past the former Hettlage department store to the square by the Dicker Turm.

The existing stairs from the Löhrtor gate to Häutebachweg, Obergraben and Grabenstrasse, which are partially concealed, will be expanded to create an accessible new link via Villa Sauer and the Mensa building. This will be followed by a second modern staircase and ramp to be installed to the west of the ‘Zum Häutebacher’ restaurant.

Easy ride to the Oberstadt

It is quite a hike from the Unterstadt to the Oberstadt district. The first attempt to make the ascent easier came in 1910 in the form of the Oberstadtbahn, an electric light railway which stretched the planners to their limits and made its way up through the steep and narrow passages very slowly; in fact it was so sluggish that most locals preferred to walk to their destination. With demand levels low, the railway ceased operation within four years. In 2006, the striking ‘Hübbelbummler’ – a yellow and red double decker bus with an old-time feel – began climbing the Siegberg.

Soon there will be an even faster way, with Campus Nord finally fulfilling a long-held dream of Siegen – a lift to the Oberstadt. The public lift will be installed in an accessible ‘gap’ between the university building and the old Siegen textile mill.

Modern Mensa overlooking the old city walls

The new, highly modern Mensa building at the Unteres Schloss was close to the hearts of everyone involved. The architects and planners spectacularly succeeded in placing the centuries-old city walls in an eye-catching, modern-day setting. The historic structure is now part of the inner and outer walls of the cafeteria, and forms a stone and glass passageway between sections of the buildings. Alongside the cafeteria, this area also accommodates a cosy lounge with serving counter, self-service vending machines, a baby feeding/changing room and, of course, the spacious Mensa canteen, where as many as 2,700 meals can be produced and served every day.

Lecture theatres in a department store?

Today, students hit the books on the top floor of the Siegen branch of Karstadt – the location of the new lecture hall complex of the Unteres Schloss campus. There is one large auditorium for 594 persons, two smaller ones each for 202 persons, seven seminar rooms for 41-79 persons and a 280-square-metre foyer for various events. Within this ultra-modern complex, as many as 1,350 students can now learn and work simultaneously – and some can even enjoy views of the historic castle square. The Karstadt branch, which has survived in Siegen since the late 1970s despite multiple threats of closure, will also benefit from downsizing and the introduction of a new neighbour.

Incidentally, the large lecture hall is named after Friedrich Schadeberg, successful Siegen entrepreneur and pioneer of the local brewing industry who was granted an honorary doctorate by the University of Siegen in 2009. He died in 2018.

Oasis of green by the Löhrtor

Like the River Sieg just a stone’s throw or two away, Siegen’s secondary river – the Weiß – is regaining its almost forgotten natural riverbed. The river is bordered by the new structures in the vicinity of the indoor pool and western Löhrtor, all of which face the river and its new green riverbank. Attractive riverside paths, green riverbanks, a bridge for pedestrians and cyclists and, not least, the preservation of the venerable flowering cherry trees near the swimming pool make this green oasis a genuine “place to be” – and not just for students.

For full details of the ‘Siegen. Wissen verbindet’ project, please visit: