As is the case in many major German cities, in Leipzig the plaza and street in front of the main train station are dominated by a large streetcar and bus stop. On a single workday there are almost 3,000 arrivals and departures and some 70,000 people traveling through this transport hub.
Supplementing the eight-lane inner city ring, similar to a highway, the bus and streetcar stop aims to help connect the giant train terminal to the north with the historic city center to the south. The roofed area measuring approximately 126 by twenty-seven meters is divided into six parts, leaving openings that gently accentuate the axis running from the train station to the heart of the city.
With the redesign of the streetcar and bus station, the number of platforms was reduced from four to three, while the number of streetcar tracks and the size of the stop remained the same, providing passengers with substantially more room.
Of the six roofs, each over forty-six meters long, the four outer ones are somewhat narrower than the two inner ones. These are steel constructions, each with six narrow posts at the center and a main beam running the length of the roof, which also has multiple cantilevered beams. The three platforms can be traversed at their ends and mid-sections. The paving gives the entire complex the shape of an elongated rectangle.
The artist Carsten Nicolai designed the undersides of the platform roofs. He exposed a surface of milk to different levels of sound, which created various ripple formations, some stronger, some gentler. Enlarged umpteen times, the photograph of the interference pattern was printed on lengths of polyester, which were placed between sheets of PVC. These were in turn spanned on frames that were then set onto the steel structure. Integrated into the roofs behind the PVC sheets are neon tubes which illuminate the images most clearly at nighttime, creating the appearance of a soft, thick cloud covering.
The look of the bus and streetcar station, an object poised between architecture and design, is strongly influenced by its furnishings. These include eight destination boards, eight ticket machines, two newsstands, and seventy-four seats. The glass benches, each conceived for two people, are lit from within. Pared down to the basics in terms of design, they present many of the tourist attractions in Leipzig on their longer sides, including the St. Thomas Church, St. Nicolas Church, the Gewandhaus concert hall, the Schiller House, the wildlife park, and the zoo. Whether visitor or native, anyone waiting for the bus is invited to explore the city.