First and foremost, the IRS considers itself a catalyst for innovative, relevant and excellent social science-based spatial research. Yet unlike institutes dedicated to the natural sciences, the IRS does not make use of research infrastructures encompassing laboratories and elaborate laboratory equipment, or research stations. Nevertheless, the institute's Scientific Collections hold extensive material on the building and planning history of the GDR and thus serves as a scientific repository and infrastructure for IRS scholars and others.
The Scientific Collections are the most important archive specialised on contemporary building and planning history of the GDR. They contain personal papers from architects and planners, including sketches, plans, photos and documents which are accessible to historians, heritage conservationists, architects, and journalists. The institute is also in the process of establishing an office for the management of research data. In addition, the institute's academic library with its specialist literature is open to both IRS scholars and guests.