The “Former Synagogue Universitätsstrasse“ memorial place competition

In September 2008, archaeological excavations were mounted on the site of the former synagogue in Universitätsstrasse. In the course of these excavations, it was discovered that – the synagogue’s destruction in 1938, the demolition of the ruins in 1938/39, and the redevelopment of the site in 1963  nonwithstanding –, subterranean remnants of the original buiding have survived.

Entwurf der ehemaligen Synagoge in der Universitätsstraße von Wilhelm Spahr
Copyright: Stadtplanung Marburg

The City of Marburg and the Jewish community have agreed to create a new memorial site providing information on the architecture of the former synagogue and the historical events linked to the site as well as paying homage to the site as a major place of Jewish religious life in former times, developing an important contribution, fully integrated into the cityscape, to a conscious and conscientious discussion of the historical identity of the city of Marburg.

Accordingly a competition inviting proposals for a suitable concept for the redevelopment of the site of the former synagogue in Universitätsstrasse, taking into account both artistic concerns and those of open space planning, was organized.

The new concept, combining a redesign of the open space with an artistic concept for a memorial, was to appropriately present the history of the site while also enhancing the quality of the location as an urban amenity.

Competition Procedure

Nine teams were invited to submit proposals within the framework of the competition; they consisted of architects/landscape architects collaborating with artists. The competition procedure was organized according to the policies and guidelines for competitions – GRW 1995 – in collaboration with the Architektenkammer Hessen. The competition proposals were submitted anonymously.

The evaluation of the proposals for the competition was based on the following criteria:

– integration into the cityscape
– basic idea of the concept as regarding the overall design and the characteristics
of the memorial
– treatment of the site’s history, its architectural heritage and its integration
– compliance with the functional requirements
– overall quality of the concept with regard to design and amenity qualities
– artistic rendering


On 30 September 2009, the jury chaired by the landscape architect Klaus Bierbaum evaluated the submitted proposals, and awarded one first prize and two third prizes. Moreover the jury unanimously backed the recommendation to realize the proposal awarded first prize.

First Prize

scape Landschaftsarchitekten, Düsseldorf
Oliver Gather / Christian Ahlborn, Düsseldorf

First prize, Perspektive Realisierungswettbewerb,
Ehemalige Synagoge Universitätsstraße
Copyright: Büro scape, Stadtplanung Marburg

Third Prizes

Barbara Willecke planung•freiraum,
Andreas Süß, Berlin

Büro planung.freiraum, Stadtplanung Marburg

sinai Faust-Schroll-Schwarz Freiraumplanung, Berlin
Cisca Bogman & Oliver Störmer, Berlin

Copyright: Büro sinai, Stadtplanung Marburg


In September 2011, the first steps were taken to realize the proposal awarded first prize. The implementation process was divided into two stages; as a preparatory measure the site had, in early 2011, been cleared save for the two lime trees to be preserved.
In 2011 the following measures were implemented:

– removal of soil and preservation of the lime trees
– construction of the retaining wall for the slope of the city wall
– excavation of the remnants of the synagogue and their public presentation
– winterproofing of the excavations

Since March 2012 the remaining stages are being implemented:

– Construction of the pathways
– Construction of the sculpture, restauration of the mikveh and installation of the Zettelkästen
– Lighting and fixtures
– Construction of the new demarcation wall towards the Landgrafenhaus
– Widening of the sidewalk on Universitätsstrasse, including a roofed bus stop, an information panel and a three-dimensional model
– replacement of the topsoil and planting

The ceremonial opening is scheduled for 11 November 2012.

Handbill of the ’Former Synagogue Universitätsstrasse’ competition


Brochure about the competition for the realization of plans for the old synagogue in Universitätsstraße

Here you can download
the brochure