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previous state

Located in the peripheral district of Paunsdorf, Heiterblick is a typical East German prefabricated-concrete housing estate. Construction began in the 1980s on land of the Heiterblick military training camp, which gave the estate its name. However, with the fall of the Wall, it was left unfinished. The estate is in the form of a built-up peninsula surrounded by virgin woods and fields and it only meets the urban fabric of Leipzig at its southern edge, at a tangent to Permoserstraße, which directly connects it with the motorway leading to Dresden. This, combined with its physical separation from the rest of the city confers on it a certain degree of autonomy and a harmonious relationship with the territory.

aim of the intervention

Given that, in the medium term, it is not envisaged that the estate will need to expand, the administration wanted to consolidate the situation of the surrounding no-man’s land, a biotope of great natural value. This resolve responded to the twofold objective of avoiding eventual deterioration of the zone and offering the citizens of Heiterblick a place where they could meet, engage in leisure activities and be in contact with nature.


The Green Arch of Paunsdorf responds to this dual objective. It is a semicircular park that surrounds the estate, ordering and equipping the strip that is in contact with the built-up land and, beyond that, preserving the woods and fields. The project was conceived in successive and independent phases that had to be gradually undertaken in keeping with social needs and budgetary possibilities. The use of simple solutions in construction and the low intensity of built-up areas were in keeping with this approach.

A pathway around the perimeter follows the contours of the estate, establishing a well-defined limit between the built-up area and the surrounding territory. This separates into two parallel paths of different widths and flanked by long lines of trees. The inner path is four metres wide and asphalted with a view to its being used by cyclists, skaters and pedestrians. The outer path is narrower and of sandy soil. It is equipped with many benches, offering a quiet strip of land for repose and contemplation of the fields. The two paths define a polygon of rectilinear sections. At the vertexes where the sections meet, the paths open out into ample, slightly elevated terraces, belvederes that offer views over the city and its surrounds.

In this surrounding land are the Lehdenweg sports fields, games areas, slopes for sledding, walls for exhibiting graffiti and spaces for riding mountain bikes. It also gives access to the valuable natural ecosystem that surrounds the old barracks of the Heiterblick military camp, the Paunsdorf woods, the Theklae gardens and the Bürgerpark. The open fields are pasturelands for sheep, the local breed of cows and Przewalski’s wild horses.


In the nineteenth century, the walls that surrounded Leipzig were replaced by a green belt that opened up its horizons. The celebrated circular path, however, also put an end to the veto on unrestricted expansion of the city over the territory. More than a century later, at a time characterised by out-of-control construction, the Green Arch of Paunsdorf has recovered the nineteenth-century idea but with the different aim of once again precisely and specifically delimiting the built-up urban area. The result of this bold action does not entail an antagonistic counterposition of the urban reality and nature but rather their reconciliation.

In the case of Heiterblick, the town no longer gives offence to nature by turning its back on it by means of a blind wall, but neither does it debase it by physical occupation. The intervention has brought nature within the reach of its citizens, representing it in a way that is at once pedagogical and hedonistic, and calling for respect. This means that, paradoxically, the natural spaces are conserved through being subjected to large-scale use. The fact that natural space is understood as a prolongation of public space has had the effect that physical occupation has now become spiritual occupation. By means of sensitive and sustainable policy, the urbanising effect has opened up the way to a civilising effect. In other words, the “polis” has ensured that the “urbs” has become “civitas”.

David Bravo Bordas, architect

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The outer path as it passes through a field where Przewalski’s wild horses graze. © GFA_Leipzig

technical sheet

CITY: Leipzig (515,469 inhabitants)

COUNTRY: Germany




AREA: 400,000 m2

COST: 550,160 €

WEBSITE: www.greenkeys-project.ne (...)





Jens Betcke