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

2017

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

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

The purpose of the ReNEW project within the Leibniz Research Alliance "Energy Transitions" (LVE) is to systematize, advance and disseminate knowledge on three core challenges that are currently confronting the Energiewende: centralized versus decentralized systems, public versus private interests, and global versus local effects. 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

The aim of the research project is to explore how migrants from Turkey as an established immigrant group have interpreted and acted on the arrival of the Syrian refugees in Berlin from the 2014 onwards until now and whether the interaction between the two groups has resulted in new spaces in which new contestations and/or solidarity emerge. more

2016

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

Although several studies emphasize the value of improvisation, accidents, and uncertainty for innovation and creativity, these notions are still primarily viewed as threats to be controlled. In order to reduce uncertainty within organizational processes, management typically tends to use standardization and routine. 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 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

For decades, urban developers and urban researchers have devoted attention to issues of ethnic and cultural diversity. Other aspects of diversity, however, have been somewhat neglected. Sexual diversity, in particular, has received very little attention in the German speaking world. This is why Jesko Meißel is studying the way in which “sexual diversity” has been constructed and incorporated into observable urban transformation processes from a comparative perspective for his PhD project. more

Researchers from the IRS, from the Istituto per la Ricerca Sociale (IRS) in Milan, and the Institute for Employment Studies (IES) in Brighton are studying the European labour market to derive qualitative and quantitative data on its dynamics on the national and regional level. This cooperative project is part of the European Union's ESPON 2020 programme. The scholars afford special attention to key developments and factors, such as local circumstances and policies, that impact the particular geographical pattern of Europe's labour market. more

The aim of the project is to investigate in how far ways of dealing with aquatic phenomena such as, for example, floods in river regions is influenced by cultural knowledge. It focuses on perceptions of potential vulnerability (constructions of vulnerability) and local risk reduction practices (constructions of resilience). 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

The Working Group of the Academy for Spatial Research and Planning (ARL) and its network in Berlin, Brandenburg and Mecklenburg-Vorpommern explores innovations in the planning system to manage energy transition. more

In large parts of Europe, structurally weak rural regions are facing similar problems. Economic productivity is low, as is the availability of jobs for qualified people. At the same time, educational and cultural opportunities cannot be provided in these regions to the same extent as in conurbations. This is the starting point for RurInno: It brings together researchers and practitioners from two research institutions and four social enterprises working in rural areas. The partners are pursuing three objectives together: first, promoting knowledge transfer between research and practice; second, improving empirical knowledge of conditions for social innovations in rural areas; and third, increasing the visibility of the work of social enterprises in politics and society. more

Although a number of municipalities have developed strategies and tools to generate new perspectives for historic buildings, it is still a major challenge for many cities – especially those with declining population – to handle un-refurbished and vacant historic buildings to improve the attractiveness of inner city areas. The objective of the research project is to study the current situation, analyze and evaluate strategies and trends. more

This project is part of the so-called German habilitation qualification (post-doctoral thesis for senior researchers). It is about energy spaces, energy transitions and new geographies of energy. more

2015

In his dissertation project, Andreas Kuebart researches the phenomenon of seed accelerators from the perspective of relational economic geography. The project aims to study seed accelerators as interfaces between newly created business on the one hand and specialized expertise mobilized in dense local and trans-local communities, social capital that resides in strategic networks and sub-sequent venture capital investments on the other. The rapid spread of the concept of seed accelerators itself show the relevance of establishing new ventures for the digital age, while this topic has been missing on the radar of economic geography so far. more

The research focusses on the significance and potential of Open Creative Labs (OCL) as places of innovation and participation. The term Open Creative Labs refers to organizations that provide workspaces and technical infrastructures on a flexible and temporary basis. The research seeks to capture significant features of Open Creative Labs and scrutinizes their spatial distribution across the eleven metropolitan regions in Germany. 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

Coastal regions are and will continue to be strongly affected by mega trends such as environmental change and migration. Traditionally, internal migration originates from but also flows to coastal regions. This particularly applies to international migration as well. At the same time, coastal regions worldwide are strongly impacted by unfolding geomorphological, climatic and societal changes. more

After 1945, European cities were developed in ways to accommodate road traffic and related mobility patterns. This led to conflicting trends: while the planning principle of the “car-friendly city” was increasingly losing popularity from the 1970s onwards, mobility and car traffic continued to increase in many cities. The lead project investigates central, hitherto unexamined contradictions within these developments by means of several historical case studies. The projects analysis in detail the role of municipal actors, planners and the public, the reshaping of the building stock through street expansion projects, and the link between road traffic and the shaping of open urban space. more

Since the 1990s, European cities have found themselves confronted with structural changes in the economy and increasing socio-spatial disparities, forcing them to reinvent themselves. An overarching theme common to many cities is a shared interest of city governments in encouraging in-migration. However, in many cases, these efforts are accompanied by a discrepancy between the desired immigration of highly-skilled, socially better-off and creative classes, and the partially unplanned influx of migrant workers, temporary residents and refugees. This project examines whether and to what extent this discrepancy feeds back into urban development processes more

The lead project explores municipalities in structurally weak rural areas where citizens and actors from politics, administration or business seek creative ways to solve local problems. The lead project’s aim is to investigate these innovative projects in rural areas. The civic engagement under study ranges from renewable energies, local supply as well as arts and culture. more

The German energy transition has brought about changes as regards spatial structures and the ways they are utilised and at the same time it poses a challenge for spatial policy. The lead project investigates new energy spaces as expressions and vehicles of the energy transition, using empirical analyses from Germany, Canada and Scandinavia. Some examples are the creation of new action areas around renewable energies, tensions between old and new energy regions, and experimentation spaces for energy policy in cities. more

The lead project looks at new places of creative knowledge collaboration. These places go by different names, e.g. fab labs, coworking spaces or maker's spaces. What they all have in common, however, is the fact that they are permanent organisations which make workspaces and technical infrastructure available to users temporarily, thus demonstrating a high degree of social (curated) openness. more

2014

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 focuses on the role that discourse dynamics play in disputes over wind turbines. more

While the German energy transition, Energiewende, is often portrayed as a rural phenomenon, it is widely recognised that the reconfiguration of urban energy systems is a key strategy of climate change mitigation. Thus, there has been a politics revolving about issues how to readjust these systems both technologically and organisationally. In many German cities, debates about to which end urban energy grids should be run, resulted in conflicts about deprivatising urban energy systems – either through state or cooperative ownership. This dissertation project focusses on the cities of Berlin and Hamburg both of which have experienced major conflicts about the future of the city's energy grid and provision. more

Oliver Koczy´s PhD project deals with innovation processes in spatial planning. Based on the urban- and neighbourhood development approach „neighbourhood management“ (Quartiersmanagement) it examines how formerly novel procedures and instruments transform in planning practice, long after they had been fixed in institutionalised norms and legal frameworks. It aims to prove processes, where innovations or rather its elements spill over in other contexts of planning. more

The PhD project “Migrant trajectories in a changing climate – evidence from Ghana and Indonesia” intends to understand the interrelations of the two phenomena migration and environmental change in coastal Ghana and Indonesia. Instead of understanding migration as a uni-causal response to environmental changes the research perceives migrant trajectories as translators of social change. more

The habilitation of Matthias Bernt "Public Policy and Gentrification in London, Berlin and St. Petersburg" undertakes a comparison of t he relationship between public regeneration policies and gentrification in London und St. Petersburg. It observes the impact of variegated institutional contexts, planning instruments and property structures on dynamics and patterns of gentrification processes in inner-city neighborhoods. more

Completed projects

by Research Department / Organisational Unit

Director

Results from empirical spatial research demonstrate that specific actors often play a central role in advancing processes and initiatives of socio-spatial transformation. Approaches, in which the capabilities of political leaders as well as of leading executives in organisations and businesses are conceptualised, have inspired the team to develop a unique approach to characterise key individuals. The approach differentiates between four dimensions. more

Even so the concepts of vulnerability and resilience – highly influenced by human ecology and environmental risk research – increasingly have been adapted to research areas in social sciences, desiderata still remain. In the cross-departmental project, a theory-based concept was developed that addresses the desiderata. It is based on a social constructivist approach, actor-network theory and on relational theories on space. more

Dynamics of Economic Spaces

Although several studies emphasize the value of improvisation, accidents, and uncertainty for innovation and creativity, these notions are still primarily viewed as threats to be controlled. In order to reduce uncertainty within organizational processes, management typically tends to use standardization and routine. 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

In his dissertation project, Andreas Kuebart researches the phenomenon of seed accelerators from the perspective of relational economic geography. The project aims to study seed accelerators as interfaces between newly created business on the one hand and specialized expertise mobilized in dense local and trans-local communities, social capital that resides in strategic networks and sub-sequent venture capital investments on the other. The rapid spread of the concept of seed accelerators itself show the relevance of establishing new ventures for the digital age, while this topic has been missing on the radar of economic geography so far. more

The research focusses on the significance and potential of Open Creative Labs (OCL) as places of innovation and participation. The term Open Creative Labs refers to organizations that provide workspaces and technical infrastructures on a flexible and temporary basis. The research seeks to capture significant features of Open Creative Labs and scrutinizes their spatial distribution across the eleven metropolitan regions in Germany. 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

The lead project looks at new places of creative knowledge collaboration. These places go by different names, e.g. fab labs, coworking spaces or maker's spaces. What they all have in common, however, is the fact that they are permanent organisations which make workspaces and technical infrastructure available to users temporarily, thus demonstrating a high degree of social (curated) openness. more

Oliver Koczy´s PhD project deals with innovation processes in spatial planning. Based on the urban- and neighbourhood development approach „neighbourhood management“ (Quartiersmanagement) it examines how formerly novel procedures and instruments transform in planning practice, long after they had been fixed in institutionalised norms and legal frameworks. It aims to prove processes, where innovations or rather its elements spill over in other contexts of planning. more

The DFG research project “Innovations in Planning: How Does Novelty Emerge in the Field of Spatial Planning?” (InnoPlan) analysed the process of developing, spreading and enforcing new planning methods and tools. For this purpose, the social-scientific concept of “social innovations” was transferred to the action fields of urban and regional planning. more

This lead project aimed to systemically compare innovation biographies and to evaluate how such innovations are utilised for economic gai n. We conducted qualitative case studies to develop so-called innovation biographies in order to grasp how innovations unfolded. Specifically, we opted to 'follow the idea' whereby we began our investigations from observable innovations and then interviewed experts about an innovation's underlying idea, who had spread it, and through which area and organisation it had been passed on before being realised. more

Institutional Change and Regional Public Goods

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

The purpose of the ReNEW project within the Leibniz Research Alliance "Energy Transitions" (LVE) is to systematize, advance and disseminate knowledge on three core challenges that are currently confronting the Energiewende: centralized versus decentralized systems, public versus private interests, and global versus local effects. more

The Working Group of the Academy for Spatial Research and Planning (ARL) and its network in Berlin, Brandenburg and Mecklenburg-Vorpommern explores innovations in the planning system to manage energy transition. more

This project is part of the so-called German habilitation qualification (post-doctoral thesis for senior researchers). It is about energy spaces, energy transitions and new geographies of energy. more

The German energy transition has brought about changes as regards spatial structures and the ways they are utilised and at the same time it poses a challenge for spatial policy. The lead project investigates new energy spaces as expressions and vehicles of the energy transition, using empirical analyses from Germany, Canada and Scandinavia. Some examples are the creation of new action areas around renewable energies, tensions between old and new energy regions, and experimentation spaces for energy policy in cities. 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 focuses on the role that discourse dynamics play in disputes over wind turbines. more

While the German energy transition, Energiewende, is often portrayed as a rural phenomenon, it is widely recognised that the reconfiguration of urban energy systems is a key strategy of climate change mitigation. Thus, there has been a politics revolving about issues how to readjust these systems both technologically and organisationally. In many German cities, debates about to which end urban energy grids should be run, resulted in conflicts about deprivatising urban energy systems – either through state or cooperative ownership. This dissertation project focusses on the cities of Berlin and Hamburg both of which have experienced major conflicts about the future of the city's energy grid and provision. more

The international project UrbanRain, financed by the Swedish Research Council Formas, was focused on the opportunities and challenges involved in the planning for the upscaling and expansion of rainwater harvesting systems in European urban areas. more

The IRS participated in the EU research consortium “Post-Carbon Cities of Tomorrow – foresight for sustainable pathways towards liveable, affordable and prospering cities in a world context (POCACITO)”. This project developed a roadmap for the transition to a sustainable, post-fossil fuel economic model for cities. This concept includes changes to energy systems, water supply, traffic, waste management, regional economic cycles, housing, environmental protection, political governance and education. more

The local level is central for implementing the German energy transition (Energiewende) and resolving numerous energy conflicts. This means that municipalities have to make decisions and take action in a wide range of fields pertaining to energy provision and use. As yet there exists hardly any systematically analysed empirical evidence of options for action and conflict resolution for local processes of restructuring energy systems. The research project EnerLOG aimed to fill this gap. more

The third part of the Joint Spatial Planning Concept for Energy and Climate was focused at the development of cultural landscapes in face of climate change and energy transition. In two pilot regions – Barnim as cultural landscpape in climate change and energy landscape Prignitz – dialog processes have been organized and evaluated. more

Since the turn of the millennium, many EU countries have introduced fixed feed-in tariffs and this has led to a macrocosm of alternatives. Through a number of examples the project aimed to show how and where such a transition is already working. The project financed by the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation analysed democratic, ecological and social energy transition projects across the whole of Europe. It investigated their future possibilities and tried to establish a more concrete definition of the concept of ‘energy democracy’. more

The energy transition to post-fossil and post-nuclear regional development places tremendous demands on existing institutional arrangements and forms of governance related to energy, cultural landscapes and regional policy-making. Focusing on energy supply as a field of action, the main objective of the Lead Project of Research Department 2 was to identify the importance of materiality and power for theoretical research on regional public goods. more

The BMBF-project pursued the goal of interconnecting technological innovations with organisational innovations aimed at sustainable land management. The goal was to study wastewater management companies and power supply companies in order to determine their potential for implementing model solutions and to develop plans for integrated regional infrastructure. more

The project developed analytical and methodological tools to analyse the institutional and political settings of integrated water resources management (IWRM) in developing and transition countries and EU member states. more

Within the scope of this interdisciplinary BMBF research network, the IRS conducted two sub-projects focused on social sciences and history. The social-scientific subproject was focused on the Berlin-Brandenburg region and analyses current sets of interests and problem perceptions with respect to “light pollution”. The historical study explored the background to the attractiveness and spread of artificial light in the Berlin-Brandenburg region. more

The European Water Framework Directive (WFD) has brought about significant changes in the spatial regulation of water resources. Stakeholders at European, national and subnational levels have begun developing multi-scalar forms of cooperation. Moreover, with the focus on the ‘River Basin District’, a new means of planning water management in Germany was created, one which cuts across existing political-administrative boundaries. The project funded by the German Research Foundation focused on state and societal actors attempting to influence the implementation of the WFD through action on a variety of spatial levels. more

This collaborative project aimed to develop and implement climate change adaptation strategies in the Berlin-Brandenburg region in a broad-based and emblematic manner. The goal was to develop proposals for an institutional adaptation of water management to the impacts of climate change in small catchment areas and to assess their applicability through a participatory process. more

New demands are being made in regional planning and spatial policy debates, which are increasingly addressing the development potential of cultural landscapes. There was therefore a need for social and political scientific analyses of our collective practices related to cultural landscapes. In his Dissertation L. Gailing came to the conclusion, that cultural landscapes are socially constructed. He explored the decisive role of formal and informal institutions as well as of modes of governance. more

This project is part of the larger proposal “KULAKon – the Constitution of Cultural Landscapes” and focuses on sectoral institutional systems and forms of governance relevant to cultural landscapes, particularly those conducive to improved coordination and interaction. Social science approaches to institutions and governance arrangements are linked to empirical studies which examine the emergence of cultural landscapes as spaces of action. The overall aim of this project is to develop knowledge of the internal systems of logic within the institutional arrangements of particular sectors and assess their importance to the constitution of specific cultural landscapes and the forms through which they are governed. more

Dynamics of Communication, Knowledge and Spatial Development

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 aim of the project is to investigate in how far ways of dealing with aquatic phenomena such as, for example, floods in river regions is influenced by cultural knowledge. It focuses on perceptions of potential vulnerability (constructions of vulnerability) and local risk reduction practices (constructions of resilience). more

In large parts of Europe, structurally weak rural regions are facing similar problems. Economic productivity is low, as is the availability of jobs for qualified people. At the same time, educational and cultural opportunities cannot be provided in these regions to the same extent as in conurbations. This is the starting point for RurInno: It brings together researchers and practitioners from two research institutions and four social enterprises working in rural areas. The partners are pursuing three objectives together: first, promoting knowledge transfer between research and practice; second, improving empirical knowledge of conditions for social innovations in rural areas; and third, increasing the visibility of the work of social enterprises in politics and society. more

The BMBF research project made a contribution to the development of the town of Bischofswerda and the examination of innovation processes. The Leibniz Institute for Research on Society and Space IRS was responsible for one part of the project under the title “Scientific concept and support of the future workshop Bischofswerda and evaluation of the overall process”. more

The lead project explores municipalities in structurally weak rural areas where citizens and actors from politics, administration or business seek creative ways to solve local problems. The lead project’s aim is to investigate these innovative projects in rural areas. The civic engagement under study ranges from renewable energies, local supply as well as arts and culture. more

The project “How societies deal with Climate Change” - a part of the “Potsdam Research Cluster for Georisk Analysis, Environmental Change and Sustainability” (PROGRESS) - funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) used social-scientific methods to examine how changes in climate are anticipated, perceived, and transformed into action in the North Sea and Baltic Sea regions. more

Regeneration of Cities and Towns

The aim of the research project is to explore how migrants from Turkey as an established immigrant group have interpreted and acted on the arrival of the Syrian refugees in Berlin from the 2014 onwards until now and whether the interaction between the two groups has resulted in new spaces in which new contestations and/or solidarity emerge. more

The number of refugees and asylum-seekers increased considerably over the last years in Germany with a peak in 2015. Cities and communities are faced with various challenges and integration-requirements. The research project focusses on adequate housing provision as an important component of integration. It analyses to what extent refugees find housing on the regular housing market. Additionally the study looks at the regional distribution and forms of accommodation during and after the process of seeking asylum. more

For decades, urban developers and urban researchers have devoted attention to issues of ethnic and cultural diversity. Other aspects of diversity, however, have been somewhat neglected. Sexual diversity, in particular, has received very little attention in the German speaking world. This is why Jesko Meißel is studying the way in which “sexual diversity” has been constructed and incorporated into observable urban transformation processes from a comparative perspective for his PhD project. more

Researchers from the IRS, from the Istituto per la Ricerca Sociale (IRS) in Milan, and the Institute for Employment Studies (IES) in Brighton are studying the European labour market to derive qualitative and quantitative data on its dynamics on the national and regional level. This cooperative project is part of the European Union's ESPON 2020 programme. The scholars afford special attention to key developments and factors, such as local circumstances and policies, that impact the particular geographical pattern of Europe's labour market. more

This project has connected and provided advanced training to museum staff and other interested parties, helping them reflect on how museums might tackle the topic of migration. For this purpose, three events (in October, November and December 2016) were held in the Berlin/Brandenburg region to fostering dialogue over the way regional museums might portray and explain the increased flow of asylum-seekers to Europe since 2015. more

Although a number of municipalities have developed strategies and tools to generate new perspectives for historic buildings, it is still a major challenge for many cities – especially those with declining population – to handle un-refurbished and vacant historic buildings to improve the attractiveness of inner city areas. The objective of the research project is to study the current situation, analyze and evaluate strategies and trends. more

Against the background of working out a new, integrated concept for urban development, the City of Halle (Saale) commissioned the IRS with the statistical analysis of small-scale social-spatial change in Halle (Saale) for the period of 2011-2014. The analysis was based on the assessment of municipal statistical data and pursued the goal of identifying changes of the social structure of quarters. more

Coastal regions are and will continue to be strongly affected by mega trends such as environmental change and migration. Traditionally, internal migration originates from but also flows to coastal regions. This particularly applies to international migration as well. At the same time, coastal regions worldwide are strongly impacted by unfolding geomorphological, climatic and societal changes. more

Since the 1990s, European cities have found themselves confronted with structural changes in the economy and increasing socio-spatial disparities, forcing them to reinvent themselves. An overarching theme common to many cities is a shared interest of city governments in encouraging in-migration. However, in many cases, these efforts are accompanied by a discrepancy between the desired immigration of highly-skilled, socially better-off and creative classes, and the partially unplanned influx of migrant workers, temporary residents and refugees. This project examines whether and to what extent this discrepancy feeds back into urban development processes more

The PhD project “Migrant trajectories in a changing climate – evidence from Ghana and Indonesia” intends to understand the interrelations of the two phenomena migration and environmental change in coastal Ghana and Indonesia. Instead of understanding migration as a uni-causal response to environmental changes the research perceives migrant trajectories as translators of social change. more

The habilitation of Matthias Bernt "Public Policy and Gentrification in London, Berlin and St. Petersburg" undertakes a comparison of t he relationship between public regeneration policies and gentrification in London und St. Petersburg. It observes the impact of variegated institutional contexts, planning instruments and property structures on dynamics and patterns of gentrification processes in inner-city neighborhoods. more

Small towns in peripheral regions constitute a unique settlement type in Germany. Their geographical location has a strong impact upon their development dynamics. The more peripheral their location, the greater the threat of population decline. Similarly, peripheral towns are more likely to struggle with unemployment than more centrally located towns. Coping with such complex problems and the consequences of shrinkage represent major challenges for municipal decision-makers. The IRS study on the “Potentials of Small Towns in Peripheral Regions” set out to produce a nuanced picture of the kinds of challenges that small towns in peripheral regions of Germany currently face and might come to expect in the future. more

This departmental lead project concluded a six year research period on the peripheralisation of cities. Thereby, peripheralisation was understood as a multidimensional concept that encompasses a number of distinct socio-spatial processes. These include a decoupling from innovation dynamics linked to the knowledge economy and/or infrastructural networks, strcutures of dependency from centralised political and political decision-making, and/or negative effects resulting from brain drain. In many cities, peripheralisation results in demographic shrinkage, vacant buildings, and a concentration of social problems (poverty, unemployment, exclusion). more

In connection with the structural realignment of urban development policies in Berlin (through the framework strategy social urban development), the Berlin Senate has defined five large-area Action Spaces Plus (Aktionsräume plus) within Berlin – an area which includes about a quarter of the population of Berlin. With this project the IRS provided scientific monitoring of the project as well as organisational task connected with its implementation. more

The joint Federal and State governmental programme “Urban Restructuring in the New Federal States” was launched by the German Federal State in the field of urban development funding (Städtebauförderung) in 2002 (initially until 2009). The programme aims to support upgrading interventions in city centres and urban neighbourhoods worthy of long-term preservation. The Federal Transfer Office Urban Restructuring in the New Federal States sees itself as a centre of expertise providing academic support to the wider programme. It serves as an intermediating authority and as such contributes to further refining processes of urban restructuring. more

Department for Historical Research

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

In dem Projekt wurden thematisch ergiebige, noch unerschlossene Bestände der Wissenschaftlichen Sammlungen des IRS Erkner zugänglich gemacht und damit für die künftige Forschung zu Bau- und Planungsprozessen in der DDR zur Verfügung gestellt. more

After 1945, European cities were developed in ways to accommodate road traffic and related mobility patterns. This led to conflicting trends: while the planning principle of the “car-friendly city” was increasingly losing popularity from the 1970s onwards, mobility and car traffic continued to increase in many cities. The lead project investigates central, hitherto unexamined contradictions within these developments by means of several historical case studies. The projects analysis in detail the role of municipal actors, planners and the public, the reshaping of the building stock through street expansion projects, and the link between road traffic and the shaping of open urban space. more

by Project Type

Lead projects

After 1945, European cities were developed in ways to accommodate road traffic and related mobility patterns. This led to conflicting trends: while the planning principle of the “car-friendly city” was increasingly losing popularity from the 1970s onwards, mobility and car traffic continued to increase in many cities. The lead project investigates central, hitherto unexamined contradictions within these developments by means of several historical case studies. The projects analysis in detail the role of municipal actors, planners and the public, the reshaping of the building stock through street expansion projects, and the link between road traffic and the shaping of open urban space. more

Since the 1990s, European cities have found themselves confronted with structural changes in the economy and increasing socio-spatial disparities, forcing them to reinvent themselves. An overarching theme common to many cities is a shared interest of city governments in encouraging in-migration. However, in many cases, these efforts are accompanied by a discrepancy between the desired immigration of highly-skilled, socially better-off and creative classes, and the partially unplanned influx of migrant workers, temporary residents and refugees. This project examines whether and to what extent this discrepancy feeds back into urban development processes more

The lead project explores municipalities in structurally weak rural areas where citizens and actors from politics, administration or business seek creative ways to solve local problems. The lead project’s aim is to investigate these innovative projects in rural areas. The civic engagement under study ranges from renewable energies, local supply as well as arts and culture. more

The German energy transition has brought about changes as regards spatial structures and the ways they are utilised and at the same time it poses a challenge for spatial policy. The lead project investigates new energy spaces as expressions and vehicles of the energy transition, using empirical analyses from Germany, Canada and Scandinavia. Some examples are the creation of new action areas around renewable energies, tensions between old and new energy regions, and experimentation spaces for energy policy in cities. more

The lead project looks at new places of creative knowledge collaboration. These places go by different names, e.g. fab labs, coworking spaces or maker's spaces. What they all have in common, however, is the fact that they are permanent organisations which make workspaces and technical infrastructure available to users temporarily, thus demonstrating a high degree of social (curated) openness. more

Third-party funded projects

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

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

The purpose of the ReNEW project within the Leibniz Research Alliance "Energy Transitions" (LVE) is to systematize, advance and disseminate knowledge on three core challenges that are currently confronting the Energiewende: centralized versus decentralized systems, public versus private interests, and global versus local effects. 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

The aim of the research project is to explore how migrants from Turkey as an established immigrant group have interpreted and acted on the arrival of the Syrian refugees in Berlin from the 2014 onwards until now and whether the interaction between the two groups has resulted in new spaces in which new contestations and/or solidarity emerge. 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 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

Researchers from the IRS, from the Istituto per la Ricerca Sociale (IRS) in Milan, and the Institute for Employment Studies (IES) in Brighton are studying the European labour market to derive qualitative and quantitative data on its dynamics on the national and regional level. This cooperative project is part of the European Union's ESPON 2020 programme. The scholars afford special attention to key developments and factors, such as local circumstances and policies, that impact the particular geographical pattern of Europe's labour market. more

The aim of the project is to investigate in how far ways of dealing with aquatic phenomena such as, for example, floods in river regions is influenced by cultural knowledge. It focuses on perceptions of potential vulnerability (constructions of vulnerability) and local risk reduction practices (constructions of resilience). 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

The Working Group of the Academy for Spatial Research and Planning (ARL) and its network in Berlin, Brandenburg and Mecklenburg-Vorpommern explores innovations in the planning system to manage energy transition. more

In large parts of Europe, structurally weak rural regions are facing similar problems. Economic productivity is low, as is the availability of jobs for qualified people. At the same time, educational and cultural opportunities cannot be provided in these regions to the same extent as in conurbations. This is the starting point for RurInno: It brings together researchers and practitioners from two research institutions and four social enterprises working in rural areas. The partners are pursuing three objectives together: first, promoting knowledge transfer between research and practice; second, improving empirical knowledge of conditions for social innovations in rural areas; and third, increasing the visibility of the work of social enterprises in politics and society. more

Although a number of municipalities have developed strategies and tools to generate new perspectives for historic buildings, it is still a major challenge for many cities – especially those with declining population – to handle un-refurbished and vacant historic buildings to improve the attractiveness of inner city areas. The objective of the research project is to study the current situation, analyze and evaluate strategies and trends. more

The research focusses on the significance and potential of Open Creative Labs (OCL) as places of innovation and participation. The term Open Creative Labs refers to organizations that provide workspaces and technical infrastructures on a flexible and temporary basis. The research seeks to capture significant features of Open Creative Labs and scrutinizes their spatial distribution across the eleven metropolitan regions in Germany. 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

Coastal regions are and will continue to be strongly affected by mega trends such as environmental change and migration. Traditionally, internal migration originates from but also flows to coastal regions. This particularly applies to international migration as well. At the same time, coastal regions worldwide are strongly impacted by unfolding geomorphological, climatic and societal changes. more

Completed third-party funded projects

Qualification projects

Although several studies emphasize the value of improvisation, accidents, and uncertainty for innovation and creativity, these notions are still primarily viewed as threats to be controlled. In order to reduce uncertainty within organizational processes, management typically tends to use standardization and routine. more

For decades, urban developers and urban researchers have devoted attention to issues of ethnic and cultural diversity. Other aspects of diversity, however, have been somewhat neglected. Sexual diversity, in particular, has received very little attention in the German speaking world. This is why Jesko Meißel is studying the way in which “sexual diversity” has been constructed and incorporated into observable urban transformation processes from a comparative perspective for his PhD project. more

This project is part of the so-called German habilitation qualification (post-doctoral thesis for senior researchers). It is about energy spaces, energy transitions and new geographies of energy. more

In his dissertation project, Andreas Kuebart researches the phenomenon of seed accelerators from the perspective of relational economic geography. The project aims to study seed accelerators as interfaces between newly created business on the one hand and specialized expertise mobilized in dense local and trans-local communities, social capital that resides in strategic networks and sub-sequent venture capital investments on the other. The rapid spread of the concept of seed accelerators itself show the relevance of establishing new ventures for the digital age, while this topic has been missing on the radar of economic geography so far. 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 focuses on the role that discourse dynamics play in disputes over wind turbines. more

While the German energy transition, Energiewende, is often portrayed as a rural phenomenon, it is widely recognised that the reconfiguration of urban energy systems is a key strategy of climate change mitigation. Thus, there has been a politics revolving about issues how to readjust these systems both technologically and organisationally. In many German cities, debates about to which end urban energy grids should be run, resulted in conflicts about deprivatising urban energy systems – either through state or cooperative ownership. This dissertation project focusses on the cities of Berlin and Hamburg both of which have experienced major conflicts about the future of the city's energy grid and provision. more

Oliver Koczy´s PhD project deals with innovation processes in spatial planning. Based on the urban- and neighbourhood development approach „neighbourhood management“ (Quartiersmanagement) it examines how formerly novel procedures and instruments transform in planning practice, long after they had been fixed in institutionalised norms and legal frameworks. It aims to prove processes, where innovations or rather its elements spill over in other contexts of planning. more

The PhD project “Migrant trajectories in a changing climate – evidence from Ghana and Indonesia” intends to understand the interrelations of the two phenomena migration and environmental change in coastal Ghana and Indonesia. Instead of understanding migration as a uni-causal response to environmental changes the research perceives migrant trajectories as translators of social change. more

The habilitation of Matthias Bernt "Public Policy and Gentrification in London, Berlin and St. Petersburg" undertakes a comparison of t he relationship between public regeneration policies and gentrification in London und St. Petersburg. It observes the impact of variegated institutional contexts, planning instruments and property structures on dynamics and patterns of gentrification processes in inner-city neighborhoods. 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 department 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.