Foto: Andreas Praefcke /Eigenes Werk/CC BY 3.0/

The Research Area deals with the planning, design and appropriation of spaces in modern and contemporary history. The proximity of historical research and the archival work of the Scientific Collection is a unique characteristic of the Research Area. The two sides are linked by research activity and methods of Digital History, among other things. Currently the Research Area is particularly interested in the history of housing, home ownership and urbanisation in the European context, the history of architecture and urban planning in the GDR, research into materiality in the historical transformation of the built environment in the "Global South" and cross-border cooperation in spatial development. The Research Area analyses the historical roots of current socio-spatial processes and opens the view for long-term continuities as well as for ruptures and crises in spatial development. It also deals with the challenges of dealing with the built heritage and the value of the past in the present.

Investigations into new forms of transmission and archiving of current knowledge for future generations in times of digitalisation form another focus. This includes questions of archiving digital architectural designs as well as collecting, cataloguing (restoring, if necessary) and researching the holdings on the architectural and building history of the GDR and increasingly also of the 1990s. In addition to researchers, the main target groups are an interested public, civil society initiatives as well as local authorities, ministries and museums.

Ongoing Lead Project

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


Tanzbrunnen Köln in der Spielpause während des COVID-19-Lockdowns 2020 (Luftaufnahme). Foto: Superbass, Wikimedia Commons
09. April 2024
New Project Will Test the Use of Drones for Contemporary Historical Research
20. March 2024 | News

Leibniz Labs are a new tool of research organization. Their aim is to bring together the wide-ranging knowledge of the participating Leibniz Institutes in order to contribute jointly to the solution of pressing social problems and to make this knowledge accessible to a wide range of target groups. As part of the first funding round, the Leibniz Association has now selected three labs for funding. The IRS is participating in a lab that investigates how society deals with unexpected, fundamental upheavals. more info


Research Groups

The research infrastructure group indexes analogue and digital archival holdings and makes them accessible online. The core is formed by the Scientific Collections for the History of Building and Planning in the GDR, which, as a special archive for the recent history of spatial development in East Germany, are available to international research as well as to the general public. more infos