“No 08/15 stop” for the University

One year after the opening of the tram line 4, the stop “Universität” is inaugurated. With the words “no 08/15 stop” (in German, the expression “08/15” refers to things that are highly standardised and disappointingly mediocre), the former dean’s assistant of the Faculty of Sociology, the Minister of Urban Planning and Housing Michael Vesper, opens the architecturally impressive stop in the presence of prominent figures from the University, the City of Bielefeld and the region. Almost three decades later than originally envisaged, the years of planning, discussion and conflict culminate in a triumphant achievement.

Official inauguration of the tram stop “Universität” and the bridge on 27 October 2001. Centre: Rektor Professor Dr. Dieter Timmermann, NRW Minister of Urban Planning Michael Vesper, Mayor Eberhard David.

Photo: Norma Langohr
Source: Universitätsarchiv Bielefeld, FOS 00520

The winning design for the main university building in 1969 already included provision for a tram stop on the northern Universitätsstraße, which was to be built by the mid-1970s. Shortly after, however, concerns arose from the representatives of the natural science faculties that the tram could possibly disturb the delicate scientific measuring instruments. This, combined with scarce financial resources, led to the suspension of further plans.

In the following years, the subject of trams and tram stops fell by the wayside. The minutes from a meeting of September 1974 basically lay out the situation which remained unchanged until the completion of the university tram line: access to the university site was to be exclusively by road, a bridge for pedestrians would cross the southern Universitätsstrasse to the University forecourt, and the construction of a tram line was promised for the mid-1990s.

  • Go-ahead for the start of construction of tram line 4 on 12 June 1995.

    Photo: Norma Langohr
    Source: Universitätsarchiv Bielefeld, FOS 00544
  • Bridge elements before installation. Construction work on the new bridge to the new tram stop “Universität”, April 2001.

    Photo: Norma Langohr
    Source: Universitätsarchiv Bielefeld, FOS 00534
  • Bridge elements are put in place. Construction work on the bridge to the new tram stop, April 2001.

    Photo: Norma Langohr
    Source: Universitätsarchiv Bielefeld, FOS 00521
  • View of the station “Universität”. Construction work on the bridge to the new tram stop, April 2001.

    Photo: Norma Langohr
    Source: Universitätsarchiv Bielefeld, FOS 00535
  • The new stop “Universität” of the city tram line 4 started operation in September 2001.

    Photo: Norma Langohr
    Source: Universitätsarchiv Bielefeld, FOS 00550

After years of stagnation, the discussion finally gains momentum
As a result, generations of students commuted to the ever-growing University by bicycle, in their own cars or in overcrowded buses. Eventually, express buses also went directly from the main railway station only to get stuck in the almost obligatory traffic jam. It was only in the 1990s, as predicted in 1974, after the opening of the tram system in Bielefeld and on the initiative of the student group for transport, the “Verkehrs-AG” of the AStA (student union), that the discussion was once again on the table. This was followed by tough negotiations over whether the tram should be close to or further away from the University. For the closer variant spoke the greater safety for users due to shorter distances. The disruption of the scientific equipment and the possibility of using the area between the bus stop and the main entrance for other planning purposes were arguments for the more distant variant.

Poster of the Bielefeld AStA about the plans for the tram stop “Universität” of the Linie 4 of the city tram service, no date (1990s).

Source: Universitätsarchiv Bielefeld, PL3/227

Schließlich erzielte man eine Lösung, die sich übrigens mit der deckte, die die Universitätsarchitekten schon 1969 vorgesehen hatten. Die Erschließung über die nördliche Universitätsstraße mit einem noch als akzeptabel anzusehenden Weg zum Haupteingang der Universität hatte sich durchgesetzt. Heute ist die Linie 4 mit über 33.000 beförderten Personen pro Semesterwerktag der meistgenutzte Ast der Bielefelder Stadtbahn.

Klaus Köpke, an architect from the Berlin architectural collective, on the (short-lived) plan to build the tram stop “Universität” underground. Interview from 9 May 2018.

Source: Universitätsarchiv Bielefeld, FS 230