Projects

IRS reserarchers conduct research on society and space within third-party funded and budget funded projects. The different project types are further explicated in the right column. Following is a selection of ongoing and completed projects in three different ways of sorting.

by year of project start

Ongoing projects

2022

Arguably unlike any other pandemic before, COVID-19 has been monitored and mapped in detail, enabling fine-grained analysis. So far, the trajectory of the COVID-19 pandemic followed a non-linear trajectory known from previous pandemics with a wave pattern implying phases of acceleration and deceleration. This research project starts from the premise, that there is unused potential in using tempo-spatial data to understand pandemic outbreaks. It aims to analyze the trajectory of the COVID-19 pandemic in Germany through a process perspective to detect spatio-temporal patterns of diffusion. more

The lead project "Social-Spatial Transformations in Berlin-Brandenburg 1980 - 2000" deals with the world-historical disruption of 1989/90 in its political-social causes and consequences in Berlin-Brandenburg. more

The bridge project "Disruption and spatial development: concepts on spatio-temporal dynamics, modes of perception and strategies of action" continues the conceptual elaboration of the disruption heuristic, uses it to interpret empirical findings in the lead project research (and beyond) and, conversely, incorporates suggestions from the empirical research of the lead projects into the further conceptual development. more

The project examines large-scale projects as profound disruptions that shake the well-rehearsed routines of institutions and can lead to institutional change. The project examines the large-scale project of the Tesla settlement in comparison to other case studies with regard to disruptive effects on policy and planning and thus tests the transferability of the term disruption to policy and planning research. more

The lead project of the research focus "Economy and Civil Society" addresses profound transformation processes in knowledge and innovation societies, which in turn are characterised by disruptive events. The lead project "Post-Office" aims to understand the dynamics of change in knowledge-generating cooperation with its disruptive elements and to discuss resulting consequences for urban and rural regions. more

The interdisciplinary summer school is directed at 15 students (with bachelor's and master's degrees) from the fields of history, urban research, architecture, political science and other related fields. It's objective is to give students a detailed insight into the concept of the "socialist city" from a comparative and transnational perspective. On the one hand, various aspects such as urban planning, architecture, housing and social infrastructure, but also monument preservation and state violence will be contextualized and discussed by the experts. The final part of the summer school will deal with the heritage and memory of socialist cities. On the other hand, the knowledge gained should be deepened through the presentation of students’ own projects as well as thematic excursions. more

Digital (planning) tools are changing the way we communicate. While urban areas seem to process these changes without tension, tensions between digitalised forms of action and more traditional, analogue forms are assumed for peripheralised rural areas. These are the focus of the project. Using rural areas in China and Chile as examples, the project will examine from different perspectives of action and actors (1) which digitisation strategies have been pursued and which digitisation processes have taken place, (2) which changes can be observed in the actions of actors against the backdrop of the available digital technologies and applications, and (3) to what extent spatial constructions of rural spaces in the respective cultural contexts are changing as a result. more

ExTrass wants to better equip medium-sized cities and towns in Germany against heat and heavy rain. To achieve this, the project examines the factors that hinder or enable urban climate adaptation and identifies examples of successful measures. One focus of the project will take place in three case study cities - Potsdam, Remscheid and Würzburg – which will test greening initiatives, pursue climate-adapted urban planning, extend datasets related to the urban climate, communicate climate risks to residents, and improve emergency planning. The project will also facilitate networking and knowledge exchange so that cities can learn from each other. more

2021

In this project, processes and a product for the simple digitalisation, indexing and publication of the holdings of smaller, specialised archives are to be developed on the basis of the scientific collections' own holdings and with the help of various pilot users, whose personnel and financial resources rarely permit comprehensive digitalisation. In combination with Citizen Science approaches and Semantic Web technologies, free resources such as knowledge, commitment and time of interested and expert users are to be gained and included in the indexing, especially the description and indexing of collection holdings. In this way, hitherto inaccessible cultural treasures are to be lifted and made usable for education, research and the public in the early stages of cataloguing. The result should be an unbureaucratically accessible open source product in the form of a central knowledge and communication platform with various additional modules, which enables both indexing work and moderation and quality control of acquired data and content.<br/> more

Everyday life in rural areas is based in a special way on volunteer work, with digital technologies increasingly being used. However, campaigning and funding practice for the digitalization of volunteering in rural areas precedes an inventory of the same: systematic findings on the use of digital tools and practices in volunteering in Germany are so far only rudimentary. Within the project, a differentiated picture of the use and handling of digital technologies in voluntary work in German rural areas, will be elaborated according to spatial types, organizational profiles and age structure of involved volunteers. A well-founded assessment of the opportunities and risks of technology use of technology in rural voluntary work is to be made. more

CORAL aims to unpack the latent dynamics and impacts of collaborative workspaces (hereafter CWS, such as coworking spaces, fablabs, creative hubs etc.) in rural and peripheral areas and integrate them as development tools in local and regional policies to open up new potentials for socio-economic development. Whereas we have observed the rapid rise of CWS in urban agglomerations in the past 15 years, there is now a gradual rise of CWS in rural and peripheral areas too. The CORAL project will offer specialised and tailor-made training to 15 Early Stage Researchers (ESR: PhD candidates), helping them to better understand and support the development processes of CWSin rural and peripheral areas and their wider impacts at the local and regional level as well as at the level of the individual worker and the enterprise. more

2020

Cities affected by the Second World War had to redefine their urban self-image and undertake a revision of their building stock in the face of the impending or real bombing catastrophe. Maps and mapping played a special role in this. The research network "Mapping and Transforming. Interdisciplinary Access to City Maps as a Visual Medium of Urban Transformation in Central and Eastern Europe, 1939-1949" explores functions of city maps in transformation processes for selected cities in Central and Eastern Europe in interdisciplinary cooperation, from the perspective of the humanities and engineering sciences, social geography as well as computer science. The sub-project at the IRS combines heterogeneous and little-researched data sets, maps and archival material to investigate the transformation of selected cities in East Germany and communist Poland. more

Rural areas are regularly associated with negative images of problems such as demographic change, loss of infrastructure, or lack of broadband connections. This culminates in attributions such as “dying villages”, “bleeding out”, or “empty landscapes”, especially with regard to structurally weak regions in the eastern German states. For some years, however, a new tone seems to have entered the debate, which rapidly intensified in the wake of the Covid19 pandemic: now urban flight appears as a new trend. The habilitation project is dedicated to the changes in the social constructions of the rural as well as their significance for spatial planning and development by analysing the discursive construction of rural areas and their changes since the 1960s in Germany. more

“Authenticity” as the purportedly “original”, “pure”, or “true” character of persons, objects or practices has become a major public discourse, a powerful driver of heritage debates and cultural change and a key research issue in the humanities. From theatre and museums studies to heritage conservation and the historical sciences scholars dispute the ways in which authenticity indicates and triggers cultural change in modern societies. While there is a broad consensus among constructivist approaches that historical authenticity was and is always socially and culturally produced, and that there is no such thing as “the pure” or “the original” in terms of materiality, the case of built heritage seems to challenge this approach. Here strong academic and public controversies have emerged on the role and impact of materiality for authenticity. This project is the first to systematically analyse patterns of such discourses in a transnational historiographical perspective. more

At the intersection of technical and social innovation, the project "Stadtquartier 4.1" seeks to find out, if and how the introduction of novel logistics and mobility services (such as automated parcel pick-up stations and cargo-bike sharing) in a neighbourhood impacts on local dwellers' behaviours and attitudes related to logistics. Secondly, it seeks to understand the communicative and participatory processes which lead to the introduction of said services into a neighbourhood. Thirdly, it investigates, if and how the social acceptance for novel logistics and mobility services systematically varies between urban and sub-urban environments. The IRS sub-project within the consortium provides knowledge, if and under which conditions technical innovations in the field of urban logistics establish in society and contribute to sustainable urban development. more

The Global Center of Spatial Methods for Urban Sustainability (GCSMUS), is funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) via the DAAD program “Higher Education Excellence in Development Cooperation – exceed" and based at the Technische Universität Berlin (TU Berlin). GCSMUS seeks to introduce the use of social science research methodologies for the advancement of urban sustainable development, by connecting social sciences methodology, via knowledge transfer, exchange and implementation, with urban policy-making, planning and design. more

The dissertation project addresses the question to what extent the constitution of creative everyday spaces is changed by a combination of on/offline spaces. How do working practices change? To what extent are interactions and spaces expanded or changed and what new (digital) hurdles arise? Using fashion design as an example, the online platform Instagram is identified as an influential actor in the socio-technical everyday fabric of fashion designers and the role of the platform in shaping practices and spaces is critically assessed. more

Global construction companies impact our futures. Beyond the edifices and infrastructures they construct, they also fundamentally influence governmental development aid policies, or dislocate people to build a new dam, for example. Yet the role of these major global players and their persistent presence in different world regions has barely been reflected upon. Our project investigates how major German construction companies conquered markets and spaces, thereby cementing their presence in different regions of the Global South, and it will trace the footprints left behind, long after the dust of the construction sites settled. It draws on the observation that it is impossible to fully understand the complexity of the built environment in these regions without acknowledging and analysing the role of construction companies such as HOCHTIEF AG or Bilfinger Berger as actors, stakeholders, transnational legal entities and major driving forces in the processes of globalised construction business. However, in previous bodies of research this perspective has been overlooked, except for rare exemptions. more

2019

The cumulative dissertation project tries to approach the topic of critical infrastructures with different approaches. Central aspects are "space" and "scale". First, the perspective of the nation state is examined, because nation states define sectors and infrastructures that are considered critical; they thus have a formative role. Then, the city level is examined as a planning unit, because decisions are also made at this level that influence the nature and functions of infrastructures. Finally, we zoom into the health sector in hospitals, because processes and decisions that change infrastructures also take place here.<br/>Critical infrastructures are inherently potentially affected by failure events, because "critical" refers to the possible failure of infrastructure. Therefore, concepts that guarantee maintenance occupy a special position. In Germany, the focus is on the protection concept, whereas in Nordic countries such as Sweden, resilience is significant as a concept. more

The PhD project investigates the negotiations of far-right contestations in urban planning and governance processes. It is supervised by Matthias Bernt (Lehrstuhl für Stadt- und Regionalsoziologie, Institut für Sozialwissenschaften, Humboldt Universität zu Berlin) and Laura Calbet i Elias (Fachgebiet Theorien und Methoden der Stadtplanung, Städtebau-Institut, Universität Stuttgart). more

Digitalisation as a societal megatrend also changes life in rural areas. Village inhabitants push initiatives to address common problems of rural living with digital technology. The aim of this research project is to better understand rural digitalisation processes and their effects on village communities as well as the (further) development of a theoretical framework to this research object. more

The joint project examines potentials and problems of former urban redevelopment neighbourhoods ("Stadtumbauquartiere") in transition to arrival neighbourhoods for immigrants. The joint project is divided into five sub-projects. Sub-project 1 "Governance" is being worked on at the IRS. It examines planning principles and actor constellations in the cities of Cottbus, Schwerin and Halle (Saale) to enable better governance of change by municipal actors. more

Architektonische und städtebauliche Planung war in der DDR in Planungskollektiven organisiert, die dem Institutionssystem der DDR entsprechend in volkseigene Planungsbetriebe integriert waren freiberufliche Architekten gab es nur noch in verschwindend geringer Anzahl. Das Projekt untersucht diese Planungskollektive in ihrer administrativen Einbettung und Funktionsweise im politischen System einerseits und in Hinblick auf die künstlerischen Produktionsweisen und das Selbstverständnis der Architekten im Kollektiv andererseits. more

Welche Rolle spielten Städtebau und Wohnverhältnisse für die friedliche Revolution in der DDR 1989? War der rasante und großflächige Verfall großer Altstadtgebiete bei gleichzeitiger und einseitiger Dominanz des industriellen Plattenbaus ein motivierender Faktor für Bürgerbewegungen? Das vom BMBF geförderte Projekt „StadtWende“ der Historischen Forschungsstelle, das im Januar 2019 mit einer Laufzeit von vier Jahren startete, will diese Frage gründlicher als bisher möglich untersuchen. more

2018

This project, secured in cooperation with the University of Łódź, thematises various paths in the development of a number of neighbourhoods in both cities following the change of system over 25 years ago. The scientists strive to provide both new findings about the interplay of institutional contexts and socio-spatial differentiation processes, as well as about post-socialist urban development in Middle and Eastern Europe. more

The project adopts a cultural economic approach to investigate the discourses that constitute the development of French campuses abroad and the materialization thereof in the space of the campuses, while paying attention to the dissonances and renegotiations involved in the process. Addressed through qualitative expert interviews with decision-makers working in French public and private higher education institutions, the following research question guides the analysis: “How is the development of French branch campuses discursively and materially constructed, branded and experienced?” more

This dissertation project investigates transnational urban education zones (TUEZs) in the United Arab Emirates and Qatar. These purpose-built urban areas were created to host offshore campuses of foreign universities. TUEZs like Dubai International Academic City or Education City appear to be part of distinctive urban development strategies while at the same time being connected discursively to transformative economic rationales. The project aims to make sense of the strategic decisions of governments to establish such zones, how they relate to urban imaginaries connected to global city ambitions, and how they are connected to future aspirations towards a knowledge-based economy. more

Universities get access to national higher education markets in South East Asia through investments in offshore branches and international partnerships. How market access is regulated and how transnational networks are coupled with regional contexts is not only subject to temporal change. It is also of utmost economic and socio-cultural relevance to the actors involved. This PhD project examines these issues in the case regions of Malaysia and Singapore. more

In the past twenty years, the number of students completing university studies in a foreign country has constantly been on the rise. In addition, many universities are investing in international branch campuses (IBCs) abroad. These are initial indices for a parallel globalisation of knowledge-intensive branches of the economy and of the university landscape. The Leibniz Junior Research Group “Constructing Transnational Spaces of Higher Education” (TRANSEDU) is concerned with the relationship between globalised economic processes and the internationalisation of the academic and research landscapes. more

The IRS is a participant in the “Innovation Hub13 – fast track to transfer”, a project funded as part of the German Federal Ministry for Education and Research's (BMBF's) “Innovative Hochschule” initiative, and obtained by the Technical University of Applied Sciences Wildau and the Brandenburg University of Technology Cottbus-Senftenberg. Prof. Dr. Suntje Schmidt developed the sub-project “Open Region: Regional Challenges as Starting Points for Innovation”, which resides at the intersection of innovation promotion and regional development. The aim of the project is to create the conditions for the integration of until now unconsidered innovation actors, in order to develop cooperative solutions for regionally relevant problem areas in Brandenburg. more

Completed projects

2018

by research areas and organisational unit

Economy and Civil Society

Arguably unlike any other pandemic before, COVID-19 has been monitored and mapped in detail, enabling fine-grained analysis. So far, the trajectory of the COVID-19 pandemic followed a non-linear trajectory known from previous pandemics with a wave pattern implying phases of acceleration and deceleration. This research project starts from the premise, that there is unused potential in using tempo-spatial data to understand pandemic outbreaks. It aims to analyze the trajectory of the COVID-19 pandemic in Germany through a process perspective to detect spatio-temporal patterns of diffusion. more

The bridge project "Disruption and spatial development: concepts on spatio-temporal dynamics, modes of perception and strategies of action" continues the conceptual elaboration of the disruption heuristic, uses it to interpret empirical findings in the lead project research (and beyond) and, conversely, incorporates suggestions from the empirical research of the lead projects into the further conceptual development. more

The lead project of the research focus "Economy and Civil Society" addresses profound transformation processes in knowledge and innovation societies, which in turn are characterised by disruptive events. The lead project "Post-Office" aims to understand the dynamics of change in knowledge-generating cooperation with its disruptive elements and to discuss resulting consequences for urban and rural regions. more

Digital (planning) tools are changing the way we communicate. While urban areas seem to process these changes without tension, tensions between digitalised forms of action and more traditional, analogue forms are assumed for peripheralised rural areas. These are the focus of the project. Using rural areas in China and Chile as examples, the project will examine from different perspectives of action and actors (1) which digitisation strategies have been pursued and which digitisation processes have taken place, (2) which changes can be observed in the actions of actors against the backdrop of the available digital technologies and applications, and (3) to what extent spatial constructions of rural spaces in the respective cultural contexts are changing as a result. more

Everyday life in rural areas is based in a special way on volunteer work, with digital technologies increasingly being used. However, campaigning and funding practice for the digitalization of volunteering in rural areas precedes an inventory of the same: systematic findings on the use of digital tools and practices in volunteering in Germany are so far only rudimentary. Within the project, a differentiated picture of the use and handling of digital technologies in voluntary work in German rural areas, will be elaborated according to spatial types, organizational profiles and age structure of involved volunteers. A well-founded assessment of the opportunities and risks of technology use of technology in rural voluntary work is to be made. more

CORAL aims to unpack the latent dynamics and impacts of collaborative workspaces (hereafter CWS, such as coworking spaces, fablabs, creative hubs etc.) in rural and peripheral areas and integrate them as development tools in local and regional policies to open up new potentials for socio-economic development. Whereas we have observed the rapid rise of CWS in urban agglomerations in the past 15 years, there is now a gradual rise of CWS in rural and peripheral areas too. The CORAL project will offer specialised and tailor-made training to 15 Early Stage Researchers (ESR: PhD candidates), helping them to better understand and support the development processes of CWSin rural and peripheral areas and their wider impacts at the local and regional level as well as at the level of the individual worker and the enterprise. more

Globalisation’s challenges include a slowing of global trade ‘slowbalisation’, caused partially by protectionist economic policies and, more recently, the Covid-19 pandemic severely restricted human mobility and cross-border trade. This research project assesses how the current crisis impacts and reworks existing economic geographies, taking the higher education sector as a critical example through which to understand broader restructurings. more

Rural areas are regularly associated with negative images of problems such as demographic change, loss of infrastructure, or lack of broadband connections. This culminates in attributions such as “dying villages”, “bleeding out”, or “empty landscapes”, especially with regard to structurally weak regions in the eastern German states. For some years, however, a new tone seems to have entered the debate, which rapidly intensified in the wake of the Covid19 pandemic: now urban flight appears as a new trend. The habilitation project is dedicated to the changes in the social constructions of the rural as well as their significance for spatial planning and development by analysing the discursive construction of rural areas and their changes since the 1960s in Germany. more

At the intersection of technical and social innovation, the project "Stadtquartier 4.1" seeks to find out, if and how the introduction of novel logistics and mobility services (such as automated parcel pick-up stations and cargo-bike sharing) in a neighbourhood impacts on local dwellers' behaviours and attitudes related to logistics. Secondly, it seeks to understand the communicative and participatory processes which lead to the introduction of said services into a neighbourhood. Thirdly, it investigates, if and how the social acceptance for novel logistics and mobility services systematically varies between urban and sub-urban environments. The IRS sub-project within the consortium provides knowledge, if and under which conditions technical innovations in the field of urban logistics establish in society and contribute to sustainable urban development. more

Social businesses are increasingly recognised by policy makers, academics, civil society actors and the business sector. In the federal state of Brandenburg, there is a wide range of social businesses. Against this backdrop, the study "Market-Oriented Social Businesses in Brandenburg" seeks to provide the first structured overview of the current state, growth potentials and the need for support of social businesses in Brandenburg. The study commissioned by the Ministry of Economic Affairs, Labour and Energy focusses on market-oriented business, hence, organisations which generate revenues for social causes by positioning new products and services. more

The Global Center of Spatial Methods for Urban Sustainability (GCSMUS), is funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) via the DAAD program “Higher Education Excellence in Development Cooperation – exceed" and based at the Technische Universität Berlin (TU Berlin). GCSMUS seeks to introduce the use of social science research methodologies for the advancement of urban sustainable development, by connecting social sciences methodology, via knowledge transfer, exchange and implementation, with urban policy-making, planning and design. more

The dissertation project addresses the question to what extent the constitution of creative everyday spaces is changed by a combination of on/offline spaces. How do working practices change? To what extent are interactions and spaces expanded or changed and what new (digital) hurdles arise? Using fashion design as an example, the online platform Instagram is identified as an influential actor in the socio-technical everyday fabric of fashion designers and the role of the platform in shaping practices and spaces is critically assessed. more

Digitalisation as a societal megatrend also changes life in rural areas. Village inhabitants push initiatives to address common problems of rural living with digital technology. The aim of this research project is to better understand rural digitalisation processes and their effects on village communities as well as the (further) development of a theoretical framework to this research object. more

The lead project focalizes digital online platforms as well as their relevance for design processes in the fashion industry. Thus, it addresses the question, to what extent creative collaboration can be digitalized. All platforms have in common that they enact specific interfaces between the "concrete" and the "virtual" world, at which human actions are translated into data and vice versa. The lead project analyses how different specialized digital platforms are used in design processes, and which spatial patters and divisions of labour in creative work emerge as a consequence. The advance of digital platforms into a formerly more analogue industry like fashion bears the potential to fundamentally change spatial arrangements of creativity-based value creation, to the benefit or at the expense of established creative centres. more

Smart cities are often talked about – but smart villages? Rural areas, particularly in structurally weak regions, are often affected by out-migration and a growing backlog in digital infrastructure and innovation dynamics. Both trends reinforce each other. However, there are examples of villages in which innovative initiatives do not just strive to compensate for deficits, but develop new, situation- and problem-specific local solutions. In doing so, they combine new services with creative uses of digital technologies and sometimes improved digital infrastructures. In this lead project, such initiatives, driven by ‘smart villagers’, are analysed from the perspective of ‘societal innovations’, yet with an emphasis on the aspects of mediatization and digitalization. more

Climate impacts, terror attacks, major technical accidents: Keywords like these indicate situations of fundamental threat, urgency and uncertainty with which social systems of various scales are confronted today. This is on particular display during the Covid-19 pandemic. Has the “world risk society” (Beck 2007) possibly transformed into a “world crisis society” already? more

In her dissertation project, Anna Oechslen studies how graphic designers in India navigate their everyday work practices using so-called crowdwork platforms. These online platforms play an increasing role in mediating work relations, providing an infrastructure to connect workers and clients on a global scale. Platform workers perform a lot of invisible work to make and sustain connections in a context where hardly anything is institutionalised. more

The project adopts a cultural economic approach to investigate the discourses that constitute the development of French campuses abroad and the materialization thereof in the space of the campuses, while paying attention to the dissonances and renegotiations involved in the process. Addressed through qualitative expert interviews with decision-makers working in French public and private higher education institutions, the following research question guides the analysis: “How is the development of French branch campuses discursively and materially constructed, branded and experienced?” more

This dissertation project investigates transnational urban education zones (TUEZs) in the United Arab Emirates and Qatar. These purpose-built urban areas were created to host offshore campuses of foreign universities. TUEZs like Dubai International Academic City or Education City appear to be part of distinctive urban development strategies while at the same time being connected discursively to transformative economic rationales. The project aims to make sense of the strategic decisions of governments to establish such zones, how they relate to urban imaginaries connected to global city ambitions, and how they are connected to future aspirations towards a knowledge-based economy. more

Universities get access to national higher education markets in South East Asia through investments in offshore branches and international partnerships. How market access is regulated and how transnational networks are coupled with regional contexts is not only subject to temporal change. It is also of utmost economic and socio-cultural relevance to the actors involved. This PhD project examines these issues in the case regions of Malaysia and Singapore. more

In this project researchers from the IRS department “Dynamics of Communication, Knowledge and Spatial Development” and the Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań investigate socio-spatial transformation processes on either side of the German-Polish border, from its opening in 2007 until 2019. The research interest is focused on the question of how debordering, rebordering, and possibly also “interstices” can be systematised. more

In the past twenty years, the number of students completing university studies in a foreign country has constantly been on the rise. In addition, many universities are investing in international branch campuses (IBCs) abroad. These are initial indices for a parallel globalisation of knowledge-intensive branches of the economy and of the university landscape. The Leibniz Junior Research Group “Constructing Transnational Spaces of Higher Education” (TRANSEDU) is concerned with the relationship between globalised economic processes and the internationalisation of the academic and research landscapes. more

The DFG- scientific network “The Spaces of Global Production: The Territorial Dimensions of Global Production Networks and World City Networks” connects scholars from Germany, Luxemburg and Belgium to exchange ideas and contribute to debates on the economic geographies of globalisation. more

Digital visualizations play an important role in urban planning and architecture practice today. Photorealistic renderings are produced in ever increasing quantities during all kinds and stages of planning processes. Questioning the production and use of photorealistic images can enhance understanding of the different rationalities that are being negotiated in urban development processes. more

Guaranteeing the security of a city's inhabitants is a central task of urban policy, particularly so for structural-spatial planning. Policy and planning thus pursue the goal of improving areas perceived to be unsafe, or indeed to prevent the emergence and stigmatisation of no-go areas in the first place. The joint project “Stadtsicherheit3D”, funded by the German Federal Ministry for Education and Research, systematises the factors for spatial safety assessments, develops scenarios for intervention, catalogues best practices for policy and planning to date, develops new proposals for best practice on the basis of empirical analyses, and at the same time devises a digital planning tool intended to illuminate the corresponding planning processes using 3D city models. more

“Re-Figuration of Spaces” is the first sociology-led Collaborative Research Centre (CRC) to be funded by the German Research Foundation. It aims to investigate the comprehensive spatial reorganisation of global scale that has been caused by an increase in the global circulation of people and goods, the development and dissemination of digital communications technologies, and the thus entailed growth of worldwide interconnections. Prof. Dr. Gabriela Christmann of the IRS is involved in the CRC as a member of the management board and as spokesperson for Project Area B, “Spaces of Communication”, and leads the sub-project “Digital Urban Planning: Planning Practices and Physical Arrangements”. more

The IRS is a participant in the “Innovation Hub13 – fast track to transfer”, a project funded as part of the German Federal Ministry for Education and Research's (BMBF's) “Innovative Hochschule” initiative, and obtained by the Technical University of Applied Sciences Wildau and the Brandenburg University of Technology Cottbus-Senftenberg. Prof. Dr. Suntje Schmidt developed the sub-project “Open Region: Regional Challenges as Starting Points for Innovation”, which resides at the intersection of innovation promotion and regional development. The aim of the project is to create the conditions for the integration of until now unconsidered innovation actors, in order to develop cooperative solutions for regionally relevant problem areas in Brandenburg. more

In urban design, town planning and architecture, a variety of electronic and digital tools have drastically reshaped the disciplines practice since the 1960s. Geoinformation systems (GIS), computer assisted design (CAD), simulation software, large databases, drones, and 3D printers are just some of the digital planning tools and infrastructures that helped to largely rearrange processes, projects and work environments. Martin Schinagl's dissertation is about the digital (re-)arrangements or “re-figurations” of offices, planned spaces, planning processes and the datafication of the division of labour. He examines the digital planning culture from the perspective of a sociological standpoint by looking at digitalised spatial practices and the ways in which planners use digital tools. more

The research project “Coping With Crises in a Resilient Manner” (RESKIU) deals with the potential for crises to provide solutions, and seeks to explore what can be done by the involved actors not only to mitigate the symptoms of crises, but also to create and use “opportunities” for structural change. The project has a duration of four years and brings together basic and applied research on crises. more

In current times, many rural regions in Europe are facing major social and economic problems. With a declining population in rural areas, both the public and private sectors struggle to keep services at the same levels as before. However, due to a decrease in revenue they are often only poorly maintained and as a result can become under-utilised and end up with being withdrawn. Similarly, also local living conditions and quality of life decreases as unemployment rises and skilled labour becomes limited.<br/><br/>These developments are mirrored in the media where structurally weak rural areas face recurring negative discourses. This can further reduce economic opportunities by framing the regions as a less rewarding context for both economic development and for everyday living,... more

The following project starts from the assumption that space is not an inert, background category. Instead, like time, it is performed through specific intra-actions with/in practices (Barad, 2007). This presents a challenge; how to grasp practices intended to change space, such as those in social innovation and territorial transformation which are simultaneously affected by the spaces, or spatialities that they enter? It is in this entangled more-than-human performativity which my research engages. more

The third-party funded, cross-departmental 'MedPlan' research project examines how new media is changing urban development planning. IRS scholars combine approaches from communication and planning studies with a historical perspective on the mediatisation of 20th century urban planning. In addition, the 'MedPlan' project tests a new format for promoting young researchers. more

Changing patterns in the production, consumption and delivery of goods are forcing urban quarters to adapt. In recent times, there has been a significant rise in the quantity of goods ordered and delivered. Increasingly, groceries for immediate consumption are also being ordered and delivered, alongside other products of mid- and long-term needs. The resultant rise in the quantity of transported goods, and the emergence of intricate delivery networks, pose a major challenge for cities. As ever more delivery vehicles navigate city streets, pollution and traffic congestion increase, while traffic accidents become more likely. Germany's Federal Ministry of Education and Research has launched the “Urban Quarter 4.0” (Stadtquartier 4.0) research project in an effort to identify and experiment with solutions to such challenges. more

Rural regions – to be understood as areas with a low population density spanning between the local and the state level – are faced with major social and economic problems. In comparison to ‘predominantly urban’ or ‘intermediate’ regions, ‘predominantly rural’ regions, and particularly structurally weak rural regions, are economically less productive, which finds expression by a low level of gross domestic product . They provide a less extensive scope of desired goods and services, opportunities for higher education and qualified job offers. Not least, they are faced with recurring negative discourses on rural problems in public media resulting in negative images. The RURACTION research and training network focuses on these problems in structurally weak rural regions in Europe and on the impact of social entrepreneurship regarding the development of innovative solutions. more

An inseparable part of modern society, innovation is currently acquiring new contours in its relation to society: Societies are becoming innovation societies, in which innovation is one of the main driving forces of change. Innovations in modern society are primarily (re-)produced in innovation fields, i.e. action fields which are constituted by the interactions between actors and which are based on specific, innovation-related topics. In this process, innovation becomes an increasingly reflexive, heterogeneously distributed, and ubiquitous phenomenon. The Graduate School thus addresses the following key question: How does the innovation society constitute its transformations reflexively as innovation? more

The DFG-financed interdisciplinary research unit “Organized Creativity” has formed to provide a better understanding of the conditions under which creativity can prosper within social organization. Empirically analyzing an arts-based as well as a science-based field – the musical and the pharmaceutical industry – enables the research units to add to the development of a multi-disciplinary theory of organized creativity. The subproject at the IRS puts the focus on different modes of governance and the connected types of uncertainty in creative pharmaceutical work. more

This research project seeks to analyse processes of social construction of economic value from a spatial perspective, using the example of the global fur industry. The main idea is to combine two approaches. In the cultural geographic discourse, contributors highlight that commodities achieve high prices on markets if they are successfully associated with entities representing positive, extra-economic values. more

Politics and Planning

The bridge project "Disruption and spatial development: concepts on spatio-temporal dynamics, modes of perception and strategies of action" continues the conceptual elaboration of the disruption heuristic, uses it to interpret empirical findings in the lead project research (and beyond) and, conversely, incorporates suggestions from the empirical research of the lead projects into the further conceptual development. more

The project examines large-scale projects as profound disruptions that shake the well-rehearsed routines of institutions and can lead to institutional change. The project examines the large-scale project of the Tesla settlement in comparison to other case studies with regard to disruptive effects on policy and planning and thus tests the transferability of the term disruption to policy and planning research. more

ExTrass wants to better equip medium-sized cities and towns in Germany against heat and heavy rain. To achieve this, the project examines the factors that hinder or enable urban climate adaptation and identifies examples of successful measures. One focus of the project will take place in three case study cities - Potsdam, Remscheid and Würzburg – which will test greening initiatives, pursue climate-adapted urban planning, extend datasets related to the urban climate, communicate climate risks to residents, and improve emergency planning. The project will also facilitate networking and knowledge exchange so that cities can learn from each other. more

The ESRa project examines factors that characterize regions with a predominantly positive attitude towards energy system transformation from regions with a negative attitude. The project aims at explaining how these factors can be influenced with regard to the realization of a successful energy transition. The project relates this question to the phenomenon of increasing regional disparities and the drifting apart of regions concerning those that draw advantage from globalization processes and those that do not. The success of an energy system transformation will depend considerably on helping less favorably equipped regions to develop and use such resources and skills.<br/> more

Das Forschungsprojekt Städtische Ko‑Produktion von Teilhabe und Gemeinwohl, beantragt beim BMBF im Rahmen der Ausschreibung „Gemeinwohl und Teilhabe“, betrachtet Aushandlungsprozesse um Teilhabeansprüche auf städtischer Ebene zwischen zivilgesellschaftlichen Akteuren und kommunalen Verwaltungen. Die Frage, wie die Teilhabevorstellungen und bedingungen durch diese Aushandlungen verändert werden, wird anhand dreier Fallstudien, in denen zivilgesellschaftliche und kommunale Akteuren in Berlin kooperieren, nachgegangen. Das Forschungsprojekt wird im Verbund mit dem Institut für Europäische Urbanistik der Bauhaus-Universität Weimar (IfEU) durchgeführt. Die Fallstudie Wohnen ist am IRS angesiedelt, die Fallstudien Migration und Umwelt am IfEU. more

The cumulative dissertation project tries to approach the topic of critical infrastructures with different approaches. Central aspects are "space" and "scale". First, the perspective of the nation state is examined, because nation states define sectors and infrastructures that are considered critical; they thus have a formative role. Then, the city level is examined as a planning unit, because decisions are also made at this level that influence the nature and functions of infrastructures. Finally, we zoom into the health sector in hospitals, because processes and decisions that change infrastructures also take place here.<br/>Critical infrastructures are inherently potentially affected by failure events, because "critical" refers to the possible failure of infrastructure. Therefore, concepts that guarantee maintenance occupy a special position. In Germany, the focus is on the protection concept, whereas in Nordic countries such as Sweden, resilience is significant as a concept. more

This project aims at analysing the climate change policy of the City of Turku and compare it with the experience of three comparable cities, Malmö, Rostock, and Groningen. The City of Turku aims at becoming a carbon-neutral city by 2029. The strategy encompasses an implementation programme and specific measures. Since similar strategies have been decided upon and implemented in many European cities, there is much to learn from other forerunner cities. more

The project “region 4.0” is an alliance of the programme “Wandel durch Innovation in der Region (WIR!)” of the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. The project alliance comprises relevant actors from the scientific, economic and public sector from Berlin and Brandenburg. The main objective of the “WIR!” alliance is to implement an innovation strategy “region 4.0” which encompasses the development of innovative value networks in the action fields tourism, agriculture/food and public services/infrastructure within the region of Brandenburg (districts Barnim and Uckermark) and Mecklenburg-Vorpommern (former district Uecker-Randow). more

The PhD project investigates the negotiations of far-right contestations in urban planning and governance processes. It is supervised by Matthias Bernt (Lehrstuhl für Stadt- und Regionalsoziologie, Institut für Sozialwissenschaften, Humboldt Universität zu Berlin) and Laura Calbet i Elias (Fachgebiet Theorien und Methoden der Stadtplanung, Städtebau-Institut, Universität Stuttgart). more

The joint project examines potentials and problems of former urban redevelopment neighbourhoods ("Stadtumbauquartiere") in transition to arrival neighbourhoods for immigrants. The joint project is divided into five sub-projects. Sub-project 1 "Governance" is being worked on at the IRS. It examines planning principles and actor constellations in the cities of Cottbus, Schwerin and Halle (Saale) to enable better governance of change by municipal actors. more

The lead project aims to understand the political construction and governance of critical infrastructures in relation to their spatiality. Infrastructures are increasingly viewed in terms of their vulnerability to disruption and the resulting security risks. Political resources are devoted to adequately securing "critical infrastructures" such as water supply and energy networks. <br/>But which infrastructures are considered critical and why? The perception and governance of infrastructures are particularly relevant for cities due to their high concentration of people, infrastructure, economic and cultural assets. Accordingly, urban climate adaptation, which seeks to prepare for disruptions such as extreme weather events, and the digitalisation of urban infrastructures, as a potential improvement tool but also as a possible new source of uncertainty for infrastructure networks, serve as fields of investigation.<br/> more

As one of the most pressing issue of our times, immigration has gained particular relevance at the local level. The recent increase of refugee migration to Germany has instigated new negotiation processes in urban policy and planning. At the national level, the transition of Germany into an immigration country is envisaged by the government, and a new immigration law is underway to create new legal pathways for labour migration. Simultaneously, immigration has become a central focus of the mobilisation for new right-wing parties and movements. These current conflicts over immigration lead to a multiplicity of new dilemmas for municipal decision makers. Consequently, this research project investigates how urban migration policies are negotiated and formulated, which actors participate in policy formulation and how migration-related segregation tendencies are addressed. more

Vor dem Hintergrund zunehmender sozialräumlicher Segregation beauftragte die Stadt Halle (Saale) das IRS mit der statistischen Analyse kleinräumlicher sozialräumlicher Veränderungen im Stadtgebiet für den Zeitraum 2014 bis 2017. Ziel der Studie ist es herauszufinden, ob bestimmte Teilgebiete Halles in besonderem Maße durch soziale Problemlagen geprägt sind, und ob der Abstand zwischen diesen Gebieten und dem „Durchschnitt“ Halles zurückgeht oder wächst. more

ExTrass seeks to better prepare medium-sized and large cities in Germany for heavy rainfall and heat. To this end, restraining and enabling factors of urban climate adaptation are analysed and successfull measures are identified. A large part of the project work is undertaken in three case study cities: Potsdam, Remscheid and Würzburg. Here, among other things, the project team tests greening measures, works towards climate-sensitive urban planning, contributes data on city climate, educates the population on risks and improves contingency plans. In addition, opportunities for exchange are created so that cities can better learn from each other. more

The joint research project “ReGerecht” funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research aims at developing and implementing solutions for a fair balance of interests between city, suburbs, and rural areas. It seeks to answer two core questions: How do regional land use conflicts arise? And: How can just solutions for these land use conflicts be found? more

This project, secured in cooperation with the University of Łódź, thematises various paths in the development of a number of neighbourhoods in both cities following the change of system over 25 years ago. The scientists strive to provide both new findings about the interplay of institutional contexts and socio-spatial differentiation processes, as well as about post-socialist urban development in Middle and Eastern Europe. more

The research aims at studying recent challenges in the development of large housing estates in postsocialist cities. It is based on a comparative approach and includes six case studies in Estonia, Germany, and Russia. Resarch on the neighbourhoods Halle-Neustadt and Berlin-Marzahn will be conducted by the IRS. Thereby, the project focuses on actors, their interests and resources and observes the consequences of their constellations for the development of housing estates. more

Based on the recent increase in migration balances in medium-sized cities, the dissertation examines the question of the extent to which reurbanisation is a relevant development trend for medium-sized cities and which control options arise for public actors in the process of reurbanisation. In order to answer the research question, two case studies of medium-sized cities are dealt with, in which the process of reurbanisation is examined, planning policies for steering reurbanisation are analysed and the influence of local actor constellations and relationships on the steering options of public actors is shown. By combining analytical steps that build on each other, which first examine the process and then the control approaches as well as the actions of local actors in two case studies, it is possible - against the background of the special features of control and planning practice in medium-sized cities - to assess both the possibilities for control and the significance of local reurbanisation drivers in medium-sized cities. The dissertation sets a focus here that contributes to the differentiated examination of research gaps in reurbanisation research. more

Many cities are reliant on immigration to turn their declining populations back into growing ones. Nevertheless, despite the increasing competition for younger inhabitant, students, and qualified professionals, as well as widespread growth policies, cities have to date barely developed their own immigration strategies. The management of immigration has so far been seen as the task of national migration regimes. When it comes to local integration policies, cities react solely to the influx of migrants and the national allocation of refugees and asylum seekers. A linkage between urban-development and integration concepts rarely takes place. more

Cities create approximately 70% of all greenhouse gas emissions while at the same time being substantially impacted by climate change. Especially extreme weather occurrences like torrential rain fall, flooding, and heat waves often result in costly property damage, which in result – caused by inept behaviour in dangerous situations and insufficient preparation – often have an adverse effect on citizens’ health. The BMBF research project “Urban Resilience Towards Extreme Weather Incidents – Typology and Transfer of Adaptation Strategies in Small Metropolises and Medium Sized Cities” aims to measurably strengthen the resilience of cities and towns by working closely with administrations, branches of civil protection, and residents. more

Wind energy is seen as a key technology to achieve climate change objectives and stimulate rural economies. Therefore, many countries support the development of wind turbines. The literature has studied numerous underlying factors regarding the social acceptance of renewable energy facilities, however, there is unclarity about the role of (political) power and discourses in new energy spaces. The dissertation project thus focused on the role that discourse dynamics play in disputes over wind turbines. more

Contemporary History and Archive

The lead project "Social-Spatial Transformations in Berlin-Brandenburg 1980 - 2000" deals with the world-historical disruption of 1989/90 in its political-social causes and consequences in Berlin-Brandenburg. more

The bridge project "Disruption and spatial development: concepts on spatio-temporal dynamics, modes of perception and strategies of action" continues the conceptual elaboration of the disruption heuristic, uses it to interpret empirical findings in the lead project research (and beyond) and, conversely, incorporates suggestions from the empirical research of the lead projects into the further conceptual development. more

The interdisciplinary summer school is directed at 15 students (with bachelor's and master's degrees) from the fields of history, urban research, architecture, political science and other related fields. It's objective is to give students a detailed insight into the concept of the "socialist city" from a comparative and transnational perspective. On the one hand, various aspects such as urban planning, architecture, housing and social infrastructure, but also monument preservation and state violence will be contextualized and discussed by the experts. The final part of the summer school will deal with the heritage and memory of socialist cities. On the other hand, the knowledge gained should be deepened through the presentation of students’ own projects as well as thematic excursions. more

In this project, processes and a product for the simple digitalisation, indexing and publication of the holdings of smaller, specialised archives are to be developed on the basis of the scientific collections' own holdings and with the help of various pilot users, whose personnel and financial resources rarely permit comprehensive digitalisation. In combination with Citizen Science approaches and Semantic Web technologies, free resources such as knowledge, commitment and time of interested and expert users are to be gained and included in the indexing, especially the description and indexing of collection holdings. In this way, hitherto inaccessible cultural treasures are to be lifted and made usable for education, research and the public in the early stages of cataloguing. The result should be an unbureaucratically accessible open source product in the form of a central knowledge and communication platform with various additional modules, which enables both indexing work and moderation and quality control of acquired data and content.<br/> more

Cities affected by the Second World War had to redefine their urban self-image and undertake a revision of their building stock in the face of the impending or real bombing catastrophe. Maps and mapping played a special role in this. The research network "Mapping and Transforming. Interdisciplinary Access to City Maps as a Visual Medium of Urban Transformation in Central and Eastern Europe, 1939-1949" explores functions of city maps in transformation processes for selected cities in Central and Eastern Europe in interdisciplinary cooperation, from the perspective of the humanities and engineering sciences, social geography as well as computer science. The sub-project at the IRS combines heterogeneous and little-researched data sets, maps and archival material to investigate the transformation of selected cities in East Germany and communist Poland. more

“Authenticity” as the purportedly “original”, “pure”, or “true” character of persons, objects or practices has become a major public discourse, a powerful driver of heritage debates and cultural change and a key research issue in the humanities. From theatre and museums studies to heritage conservation and the historical sciences scholars dispute the ways in which authenticity indicates and triggers cultural change in modern societies. While there is a broad consensus among constructivist approaches that historical authenticity was and is always socially and culturally produced, and that there is no such thing as “the pure” or “the original” in terms of materiality, the case of built heritage seems to challenge this approach. Here strong academic and public controversies have emerged on the role and impact of materiality for authenticity. This project is the first to systematically analyse patterns of such discourses in a transnational historiographical perspective. more

Global construction companies impact our futures. Beyond the edifices and infrastructures they construct, they also fundamentally influence governmental development aid policies, or dislocate people to build a new dam, for example. Yet the role of these major global players and their persistent presence in different world regions has barely been reflected upon. Our project investigates how major German construction companies conquered markets and spaces, thereby cementing their presence in different regions of the Global South, and it will trace the footprints left behind, long after the dust of the construction sites settled. It draws on the observation that it is impossible to fully understand the complexity of the built environment in these regions without acknowledging and analysing the role of construction companies such as HOCHTIEF AG or Bilfinger Berger as actors, stakeholders, transnational legal entities and major driving forces in the processes of globalised construction business. However, in previous bodies of research this perspective has been overlooked, except for rare exemptions. more

Architektonische und städtebauliche Planung war in der DDR in Planungskollektiven organisiert, die dem Institutionssystem der DDR entsprechend in volkseigene Planungsbetriebe integriert waren freiberufliche Architekten gab es nur noch in verschwindend geringer Anzahl. Das Projekt untersucht diese Planungskollektive in ihrer administrativen Einbettung und Funktionsweise im politischen System einerseits und in Hinblick auf die künstlerischen Produktionsweisen und das Selbstverständnis der Architekten im Kollektiv andererseits. more

For a long time, it has been commonly assumed that social disparities within and between towns and cities were less pronounced in the socialist system of the GDR compared to the market economy in the West-German Republic. However, newer findings show that there were analogies and parallel developments in both systems which, starting in the 1960s, led to growing socio-spatial disparities in West Germany as well as the GDR. In terms of planning policy responses, too, there are indications of analogous developments. This lead project seeks to develop an integrated analysis framework for the historical study of socio-spatial disparities across system boundaries for the first time, and to apply it empirically. more

The foundation of the Ministry for Reconstruction in 1949, its prehistory and the transformations in the 1950s can be taken as a starting point to establish the complex references to the traditions of planning and building in Germany, to the immediately preceding Nazi period and to international contexts of system competition before and after 45. In doing so, this research project will focus on the decisive course-setting and paradigm shifts, the traditional tension between decentralisation and centralism, and the question of ruptures or continuities, embedded in the international context of societies of modernity in the 20th century. more

Welche Rolle spielten Städtebau und Wohnverhältnisse für die friedliche Revolution in der DDR 1989? War der rasante und großflächige Verfall großer Altstadtgebiete bei gleichzeitiger und einseitiger Dominanz des industriellen Plattenbaus ein motivierender Faktor für Bürgerbewegungen? Das vom BMBF geförderte Projekt „StadtWende“ der Historischen Forschungsstelle, das im Januar 2019 mit einer Laufzeit von vier Jahren startete, will diese Frage gründlicher als bisher möglich untersuchen. more

Das Projekt verfolgt das Ziel, mehrere bislang nur punktuell verbundene Forschungsstränge der historischen Forschung zur NS-Zeit zu verbinden. Dazu zählen die Architektur- und Städtebaugeschichte, hier besonders Forschungen zu Repräsentationsbauten und Großplanungen, die allgemeine Institutionengeschichte des NS-Regimes und die kommunalgeschichtliche Forschung, welche in jüngerer Zeit die häufig treibende Rolle lokaler Verwaltungen und Bevölkerungsgruppen bei Unrechtstaten und Verbrechen thematisiert. more

The thesis addresses the changes of East- and West-German planning cultures between 1959 and 1989 along analysing public communication of cases in urban planning. By focussing on historic cases of planning projects on a micro/local level in East and West Berlin, the arenas of public planning communication will be reconstructed. more

The third-party funded, cross-departmental 'MedPlan' research project examines how new media is changing urban development planning. IRS scholars combine approaches from communication and planning studies with a historical perspective on the mediatisation of 20th century urban planning. In addition, the 'MedPlan' project tests a new format for promoting young researchers. more

The project focusses on the question to what extent the architects from the GDR – a country whose building practice was increasingly shaped by the principles of industrial prefabrication – have played a part in regional contexts, structures and construction methods. This implicates the issue of possible freedom of action for the planners in creative transfer and fusion processes. more

The debate about the preservation, demolition and conversation of transport infrastructure and architecture in cities is an ongoing topic in the cities with its changing mobility trends. Since the 1960s it is also widely debated in the public media. The thesis analyzes the conflicting and complex historical professional discourse and its reception in the media and wants to identify paths of arguments to get an insight of the current debates by studying four cases in the east and west. more

by project type

Cross-departmental projects

The bridge project "Disruption and spatial development: concepts on spatio-temporal dynamics, modes of perception and strategies of action" continues the conceptual elaboration of the disruption heuristic, uses it to interpret empirical findings in the lead project research (and beyond) and, conversely, incorporates suggestions from the empirical research of the lead projects into the further conceptual development. more

Lead projects

The lead project "Social-Spatial Transformations in Berlin-Brandenburg 1980 - 2000" deals with the world-historical disruption of 1989/90 in its political-social causes and consequences in Berlin-Brandenburg. more

The project examines large-scale projects as profound disruptions that shake the well-rehearsed routines of institutions and can lead to institutional change. The project examines the large-scale project of the Tesla settlement in comparison to other case studies with regard to disruptive effects on policy and planning and thus tests the transferability of the term disruption to policy and planning research. more

The lead project of the research focus "Economy and Civil Society" addresses profound transformation processes in knowledge and innovation societies, which in turn are characterised by disruptive events. The lead project "Post-Office" aims to understand the dynamics of change in knowledge-generating cooperation with its disruptive elements and to discuss resulting consequences for urban and rural regions. more

Third-party funded projects

Arguably unlike any other pandemic before, COVID-19 has been monitored and mapped in detail, enabling fine-grained analysis. So far, the trajectory of the COVID-19 pandemic followed a non-linear trajectory known from previous pandemics with a wave pattern implying phases of acceleration and deceleration. This research project starts from the premise, that there is unused potential in using tempo-spatial data to understand pandemic outbreaks. It aims to analyze the trajectory of the COVID-19 pandemic in Germany through a process perspective to detect spatio-temporal patterns of diffusion. more

The interdisciplinary summer school is directed at 15 students (with bachelor's and master's degrees) from the fields of history, urban research, architecture, political science and other related fields. It's objective is to give students a detailed insight into the concept of the "socialist city" from a comparative and transnational perspective. On the one hand, various aspects such as urban planning, architecture, housing and social infrastructure, but also monument preservation and state violence will be contextualized and discussed by the experts. The final part of the summer school will deal with the heritage and memory of socialist cities. On the other hand, the knowledge gained should be deepened through the presentation of students’ own projects as well as thematic excursions. more

Digital (planning) tools are changing the way we communicate. While urban areas seem to process these changes without tension, tensions between digitalised forms of action and more traditional, analogue forms are assumed for peripheralised rural areas. These are the focus of the project. Using rural areas in China and Chile as examples, the project will examine from different perspectives of action and actors (1) which digitisation strategies have been pursued and which digitisation processes have taken place, (2) which changes can be observed in the actions of actors against the backdrop of the available digital technologies and applications, and (3) to what extent spatial constructions of rural spaces in the respective cultural contexts are changing as a result. more

ExTrass wants to better equip medium-sized cities and towns in Germany against heat and heavy rain. To achieve this, the project examines the factors that hinder or enable urban climate adaptation and identifies examples of successful measures. One focus of the project will take place in three case study cities - Potsdam, Remscheid and Würzburg – which will test greening initiatives, pursue climate-adapted urban planning, extend datasets related to the urban climate, communicate climate risks to residents, and improve emergency planning. The project will also facilitate networking and knowledge exchange so that cities can learn from each other. more

In this project, processes and a product for the simple digitalisation, indexing and publication of the holdings of smaller, specialised archives are to be developed on the basis of the scientific collections' own holdings and with the help of various pilot users, whose personnel and financial resources rarely permit comprehensive digitalisation. In combination with Citizen Science approaches and Semantic Web technologies, free resources such as knowledge, commitment and time of interested and expert users are to be gained and included in the indexing, especially the description and indexing of collection holdings. In this way, hitherto inaccessible cultural treasures are to be lifted and made usable for education, research and the public in the early stages of cataloguing. The result should be an unbureaucratically accessible open source product in the form of a central knowledge and communication platform with various additional modules, which enables both indexing work and moderation and quality control of acquired data and content.<br/> more

Everyday life in rural areas is based in a special way on volunteer work, with digital technologies increasingly being used. However, campaigning and funding practice for the digitalization of volunteering in rural areas precedes an inventory of the same: systematic findings on the use of digital tools and practices in volunteering in Germany are so far only rudimentary. Within the project, a differentiated picture of the use and handling of digital technologies in voluntary work in German rural areas, will be elaborated according to spatial types, organizational profiles and age structure of involved volunteers. A well-founded assessment of the opportunities and risks of technology use of technology in rural voluntary work is to be made. more

CORAL aims to unpack the latent dynamics and impacts of collaborative workspaces (hereafter CWS, such as coworking spaces, fablabs, creative hubs etc.) in rural and peripheral areas and integrate them as development tools in local and regional policies to open up new potentials for socio-economic development. Whereas we have observed the rapid rise of CWS in urban agglomerations in the past 15 years, there is now a gradual rise of CWS in rural and peripheral areas too. The CORAL project will offer specialised and tailor-made training to 15 Early Stage Researchers (ESR: PhD candidates), helping them to better understand and support the development processes of CWSin rural and peripheral areas and their wider impacts at the local and regional level as well as at the level of the individual worker and the enterprise. more

Cities affected by the Second World War had to redefine their urban self-image and undertake a revision of their building stock in the face of the impending or real bombing catastrophe. Maps and mapping played a special role in this. The research network "Mapping and Transforming. Interdisciplinary Access to City Maps as a Visual Medium of Urban Transformation in Central and Eastern Europe, 1939-1949" explores functions of city maps in transformation processes for selected cities in Central and Eastern Europe in interdisciplinary cooperation, from the perspective of the humanities and engineering sciences, social geography as well as computer science. The sub-project at the IRS combines heterogeneous and little-researched data sets, maps and archival material to investigate the transformation of selected cities in East Germany and communist Poland. more

“Authenticity” as the purportedly “original”, “pure”, or “true” character of persons, objects or practices has become a major public discourse, a powerful driver of heritage debates and cultural change and a key research issue in the humanities. From theatre and museums studies to heritage conservation and the historical sciences scholars dispute the ways in which authenticity indicates and triggers cultural change in modern societies. While there is a broad consensus among constructivist approaches that historical authenticity was and is always socially and culturally produced, and that there is no such thing as “the pure” or “the original” in terms of materiality, the case of built heritage seems to challenge this approach. Here strong academic and public controversies have emerged on the role and impact of materiality for authenticity. This project is the first to systematically analyse patterns of such discourses in a transnational historiographical perspective. more

At the intersection of technical and social innovation, the project "Stadtquartier 4.1" seeks to find out, if and how the introduction of novel logistics and mobility services (such as automated parcel pick-up stations and cargo-bike sharing) in a neighbourhood impacts on local dwellers' behaviours and attitudes related to logistics. Secondly, it seeks to understand the communicative and participatory processes which lead to the introduction of said services into a neighbourhood. Thirdly, it investigates, if and how the social acceptance for novel logistics and mobility services systematically varies between urban and sub-urban environments. The IRS sub-project within the consortium provides knowledge, if and under which conditions technical innovations in the field of urban logistics establish in society and contribute to sustainable urban development. more

The Global Center of Spatial Methods for Urban Sustainability (GCSMUS), is funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) via the DAAD program “Higher Education Excellence in Development Cooperation – exceed" and based at the Technische Universität Berlin (TU Berlin). GCSMUS seeks to introduce the use of social science research methodologies for the advancement of urban sustainable development, by connecting social sciences methodology, via knowledge transfer, exchange and implementation, with urban policy-making, planning and design. more

Global construction companies impact our futures. Beyond the edifices and infrastructures they construct, they also fundamentally influence governmental development aid policies, or dislocate people to build a new dam, for example. Yet the role of these major global players and their persistent presence in different world regions has barely been reflected upon. Our project investigates how major German construction companies conquered markets and spaces, thereby cementing their presence in different regions of the Global South, and it will trace the footprints left behind, long after the dust of the construction sites settled. It draws on the observation that it is impossible to fully understand the complexity of the built environment in these regions without acknowledging and analysing the role of construction companies such as HOCHTIEF AG or Bilfinger Berger as actors, stakeholders, transnational legal entities and major driving forces in the processes of globalised construction business. However, in previous bodies of research this perspective has been overlooked, except for rare exemptions. more

The joint project examines potentials and problems of former urban redevelopment neighbourhoods ("Stadtumbauquartiere") in transition to arrival neighbourhoods for immigrants. The joint project is divided into five sub-projects. Sub-project 1 "Governance" is being worked on at the IRS. It examines planning principles and actor constellations in the cities of Cottbus, Schwerin and Halle (Saale) to enable better governance of change by municipal actors. more

Architektonische und städtebauliche Planung war in der DDR in Planungskollektiven organisiert, die dem Institutionssystem der DDR entsprechend in volkseigene Planungsbetriebe integriert waren freiberufliche Architekten gab es nur noch in verschwindend geringer Anzahl. Das Projekt untersucht diese Planungskollektive in ihrer administrativen Einbettung und Funktionsweise im politischen System einerseits und in Hinblick auf die künstlerischen Produktionsweisen und das Selbstverständnis der Architekten im Kollektiv andererseits. more

Welche Rolle spielten Städtebau und Wohnverhältnisse für die friedliche Revolution in der DDR 1989? War der rasante und großflächige Verfall großer Altstadtgebiete bei gleichzeitiger und einseitiger Dominanz des industriellen Plattenbaus ein motivierender Faktor für Bürgerbewegungen? Das vom BMBF geförderte Projekt „StadtWende“ der Historischen Forschungsstelle, das im Januar 2019 mit einer Laufzeit von vier Jahren startete, will diese Frage gründlicher als bisher möglich untersuchen. more

This project, secured in cooperation with the University of Łódź, thematises various paths in the development of a number of neighbourhoods in both cities following the change of system over 25 years ago. The scientists strive to provide both new findings about the interplay of institutional contexts and socio-spatial differentiation processes, as well as about post-socialist urban development in Middle and Eastern Europe. more

In the past twenty years, the number of students completing university studies in a foreign country has constantly been on the rise. In addition, many universities are investing in international branch campuses (IBCs) abroad. These are initial indices for a parallel globalisation of knowledge-intensive branches of the economy and of the university landscape. The Leibniz Junior Research Group “Constructing Transnational Spaces of Higher Education” (TRANSEDU) is concerned with the relationship between globalised economic processes and the internationalisation of the academic and research landscapes. more

The IRS is a participant in the “Innovation Hub13 – fast track to transfer”, a project funded as part of the German Federal Ministry for Education and Research's (BMBF's) “Innovative Hochschule” initiative, and obtained by the Technical University of Applied Sciences Wildau and the Brandenburg University of Technology Cottbus-Senftenberg. Prof. Dr. Suntje Schmidt developed the sub-project “Open Region: Regional Challenges as Starting Points for Innovation”, which resides at the intersection of innovation promotion and regional development. The aim of the project is to create the conditions for the integration of until now unconsidered innovation actors, in order to develop cooperative solutions for regionally relevant problem areas in Brandenburg. more

Completed third-party funded projects

Qualification projects

Rural areas are regularly associated with negative images of problems such as demographic change, loss of infrastructure, or lack of broadband connections. This culminates in attributions such as “dying villages”, “bleeding out”, or “empty landscapes”, especially with regard to structurally weak regions in the eastern German states. For some years, however, a new tone seems to have entered the debate, which rapidly intensified in the wake of the Covid19 pandemic: now urban flight appears as a new trend. The habilitation project is dedicated to the changes in the social constructions of the rural as well as their significance for spatial planning and development by analysing the discursive construction of rural areas and their changes since the 1960s in Germany. more

The dissertation project addresses the question to what extent the constitution of creative everyday spaces is changed by a combination of on/offline spaces. How do working practices change? To what extent are interactions and spaces expanded or changed and what new (digital) hurdles arise? Using fashion design as an example, the online platform Instagram is identified as an influential actor in the socio-technical everyday fabric of fashion designers and the role of the platform in shaping practices and spaces is critically assessed. more

The cumulative dissertation project tries to approach the topic of critical infrastructures with different approaches. Central aspects are "space" and "scale". First, the perspective of the nation state is examined, because nation states define sectors and infrastructures that are considered critical; they thus have a formative role. Then, the city level is examined as a planning unit, because decisions are also made at this level that influence the nature and functions of infrastructures. Finally, we zoom into the health sector in hospitals, because processes and decisions that change infrastructures also take place here.<br/>Critical infrastructures are inherently potentially affected by failure events, because "critical" refers to the possible failure of infrastructure. Therefore, concepts that guarantee maintenance occupy a special position. In Germany, the focus is on the protection concept, whereas in Nordic countries such as Sweden, resilience is significant as a concept. more

The PhD project investigates the negotiations of far-right contestations in urban planning and governance processes. It is supervised by Matthias Bernt (Lehrstuhl für Stadt- und Regionalsoziologie, Institut für Sozialwissenschaften, Humboldt Universität zu Berlin) and Laura Calbet i Elias (Fachgebiet Theorien und Methoden der Stadtplanung, Städtebau-Institut, Universität Stuttgart). more

Digitalisation as a societal megatrend also changes life in rural areas. Village inhabitants push initiatives to address common problems of rural living with digital technology. The aim of this research project is to better understand rural digitalisation processes and their effects on village communities as well as the (further) development of a theoretical framework to this research object. more

The project adopts a cultural economic approach to investigate the discourses that constitute the development of French campuses abroad and the materialization thereof in the space of the campuses, while paying attention to the dissonances and renegotiations involved in the process. Addressed through qualitative expert interviews with decision-makers working in French public and private higher education institutions, the following research question guides the analysis: “How is the development of French branch campuses discursively and materially constructed, branded and experienced?” more

This dissertation project investigates transnational urban education zones (TUEZs) in the United Arab Emirates and Qatar. These purpose-built urban areas were created to host offshore campuses of foreign universities. TUEZs like Dubai International Academic City or Education City appear to be part of distinctive urban development strategies while at the same time being connected discursively to transformative economic rationales. The project aims to make sense of the strategic decisions of governments to establish such zones, how they relate to urban imaginaries connected to global city ambitions, and how they are connected to future aspirations towards a knowledge-based economy. more

Universities get access to national higher education markets in South East Asia through investments in offshore branches and international partnerships. How market access is regulated and how transnational networks are coupled with regional contexts is not only subject to temporal change. It is also of utmost economic and socio-cultural relevance to the actors involved. This PhD project examines these issues in the case regions of Malaysia and Singapore. more

Lead Projects

Lead projects are financed by the IRS and constitute an integral element of the institute's research programmes, which have a duration of three to four years. Each Research Area runs one lead project, which is defined by practice-oriented basic research.

Cross-departmental Projects

Cross-departmental projects are financed by the IRS and constitute the second key pillar of basic research conducted at the institute. They are characterised by cross-departmental cooperation on fundamental research questions from social science-based spatial research, and by an inter- and transdisciplinary perspective. Cross-departmental projects, like lead projects, are integrated into the institute's research programmes.

Third-party Funded Projects

Third-party funded research projects complement the institute's lead and cross-departmental projects, focussing in detail on their respective research questions and examining broader issues of real-world applicability. Third-party funded projects also provide an opportunity to explore new research fields or to pursue strategic goals like promoting early stage researchers.

Qualification Projects

The projects of doctoral and Habilitation researchers constitute an integral element of the institute's research departments. Projects of this kind investigate issues closely related to research questions examined in lead and third-party funded projects. In this sense, they contribute to shaping the IRS' research profile and help foster cooperative partnerships with universities.