The Südstadt consists of two neighbourhoods, the Loretto (6.3ha) and the Französisches Viertel (French Quarter, 9.8ha). In between them runs the Stuttgarter Strasse, a regionally important and busy road. Both areas are located on the sites of former French military barracks.
Loretto is arranged around the former parade-ground which has been transformed into a long, linear public square. The Französisches Viertel has a more homogeneous, multidirectional urban grid. Its main public space is a refurbished tank shed which has been made accessible for ball games and community festivals.
The prevailing typologies in both developments are urban blocks. New build complements the military barracks, most of which have been retained and converted into flats. They are partly outside and partly integrated into the blocks.
The use of building partnership entails plot-based development. As these groups can only handle a limited building volume each block is made up of a number of individual buildings. Their fronts align with the perimeter of the block which has been defined by the master plan. However, height, depth and architectural style of each building are allowed to vary within a given range. Thus an architectural diversity is created which reminds of urban quarters that organically "grew" over time, not dissimilar to Urban Villages in the UK, but in a modern architectural language.
In German planning the GRZ (Grundflächenzahl) is a key measure of density which indicates the percentage of plot that can be covered by the footprint of the building or by sealed surfaces. Densities are set at a GRZ of 0.6-0.8 (60%-80%), which is relatively high. In combination with building heights of generally 4-6 stories it is equivalent to the average inner-urban area of a mid-size German town.
The master plan deliberately avoided the application of zoning laws, instead requiring each partnership to find a non-residential use for their ground floor space, such as an office, a community or a retail use. The result are active frontages and a particularly fine mix of uses which both contribute to the quarter's urban character.
A strong emphasis has been placed on the public realm. Buildings have their entrances to the street, which is thus defined as the main public space. The courtyards within the blocks are shared between the residents of each block and can be regarded as semi-private. They are accessible to the public from the street, yet signs politely ask the visitors to respect everybody's privacy.
Private car parking is highly restricted in the entire quarter and limited to three multi-storey automated car racks which are located so that they are never further than 250m from any flat. Apart from one underground garage there is no additional private parking. (Interestingly this garage belongs to the only building that has been commercially developed by a private company.) The absence of on-street parking results in narrow streets. It allows for higher densities and further adds to the development's urban character.
All dwellings are flats, and they are almost exclusively owner-occupied. This reflects the municipality's intention to create a quarter which is attractive to a typical suburban clientele, i.e. middle-income families aiming for home ownership.
There is no separate provision of affordable housing. Instead plot sizes are kept flexible so that a low-income group can build to high densities on a narrow plot and thus spread the cost of the land across many parties. Self-commissioning further allows for an individual choice of materials and finishes as well as for the contribution of manual labour, means by which costs can be cut even further.