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

The Research Area addresses problems of design, planning and appropriation of spaces in recent history. The focus is laid on the history of urbanisation, architecture and urban planning in the GDR, the significance of materiality in the historical transformation of the built environment, and cross-border cooperation in spatial development. Research projects are focussing on the historical roots of current socio-spatial processes and opens the view for long-term continuities as well as for breaks and crises in spatial development. It also deals with current problems of preserving the architectural heritage and the value of the past in the present. Another focus is on questions concerning new forms of archiving and documentation of current processes in the fields of planning and building for future generations in times of digitalisation, such as digital architectural designs. Special interest is given to methods and approaches of digital history. Priority addressees are the broader public, civil society initiatives, and municipalities, ministries and museums. In addition, consulting services are developed for other archives, especially small ones.

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


26. January | 2022 | News

At the end of 2021, the Franco-German Historians Committee awarded the dissertation prize to historian Daniel Hadwiger, a researcher at the IRS, for his study “Nationale Solidarität und ihre Grenzen. Die deutsche Nationalsozialistische Volkswohlfahrt und der französische Secours national im Zweiten Weltkrieg“ (“National Solidarity and its Borders. The German National Socialist People's Welfare and the French Secours national in the Second World War”). In the presence of the Board of the Historians Committee, the Director of the Centre Marc Bloch, Prof. Jakob Vogel, and the representative of the Science Department of the French Embassy in Berlin, Dr. Bernard Ludwig, the prize was ceremoniously awarded at the Centre Marc Bloch on 18 November 2021. more info

Foto: A.Savin (Wikimedia Commons · WikiPhotoSpace) - Eigenes Werk, FAL,
10. September | 2021 | News

On 1 September 2021, the new Leibniz Research Association "Value of the Past" began its work. It unites 20 institutions of the Leibniz Association, ranging from institutes of history and cultural studies to social and environmental sciences and research museums. The IRS is represented in the network with its Research Area “Contemporary History and Archive”. more info


IRS Spring Academy
Photo: William/; virus: winyu/
31. May | 2022 - 03. June | 2022
Investigating Space(s): Current Theoretical and Methodological Approaches: Part 5 – Spaces of Infection

Unknown infections and mortal diseases have been threats to humankind ever since. However, it seems that with the decrease of biodiversity, hypermobility of human beings and increasing population density, the outbreak and the spreading of infections have turned into a severe global problem. COVID-19 is only the most recent case that reminds us that quickly spreading infections are and have ever been a major source for crises. more infos

Photo left:, right: Norodowe Archiwum Cyfrowe
01. August | 2022 - 05. August | 2022

Research Groups

Foto: Martin Püschel/Eigenes Werk/CC BY-SA 3.0/

The Research Group is interested in the interactions between creative processes, work and processes of economic and social change. In this context, local manifestations of dynamics such as digitalisation, social transformation processes and increasing multilocality of gainful employment are investigated. more infos

The Junior Research Group is emerging/stems from from the Volkswagen Foundation-funded Freigeist project "Conquering (with) Concrete. German Construction Companies as Global Players in Local Contexts" (2020 to 2024). It examines histories of the built environment in the 19th and 20th century in a global perspective. more infos

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