District raised 4 Copyright: © Angelina Bolten  

New Instruments for Planning Urban Quarters


Related Links:

Quartier4 – Neue Instrumente im Quartier | Fachkonferenz am 22. September 2022
Impressions Summer Workshop – June 6th, 2021
Interview DAB

Urban quarters are the living environment in which the quality of life of a city becomes tangible for its citizens. In city quarters, the physical urban space interacts with functional offers and social, cultural, and economic processes. In this way, neighborhoods can be understood as spatial systems whose complexity – in contrast to the entire city or region – can still be understood and which can be actively developed and shaped by the local stakeholders. In cities, there is a multitude of types of neighborhood, each with different assets and challenges. Active neighborhood development by the municipality is necessary in some neighborhoods, while others "work" by themselves.

Cities are facing many trends and drivers: they attract people, and are able to, and have to, induce change. Urban quarters are the key to this change, here the system of the city can be specifically transformed. The project takes a look at the level of action on the scale of the urban quarter. It examines how new offers and services in the neighborhood can be recombined in order to effectively meet the challenges of cities, to initiate change, and to develop a new quality of life in the existing and new building structures. Future questions concern, for example, dealing with a diverse and ageing society, the effects of digitization, the future of services for the public, the continuous strengthening of online trade, lifestyle changes with increasing individualization and isolation, new possibilities, preferences, and necessities for a comprehensive change to mobility.

The project’s initial hypothesis is that a large number of new services is currently being developed in the areas of housing, open space, social affairs, education, care, mobility, supply, and logistics. This is being driven by technological, social and spatial innovations. The "makers" and "operators" of these services are extremely diverse and often confusing. Private sector providers are pushing their way into traditional municipal areas of responsibility, but associations, clubs, initiatives as well as local residents and users are also developing new activities.

This holds new opportunities: by skillfully implementing and combining new services, neighborhoods can become more appealing for broad target groups and beyond previous sectoral approaches. At the same time, various risks are emerging: private providers are occupying public space, new offers are not sufficiently accessible for different target groups and therefore endanger social participation, and finally the market logic is also marginalizing certain locations and neighborhoods.

Research Questions
The project is being developed and conducted in relation to three research questions. In addition to the research-oriented approach, the project will develop concrete planning approaches and instruments for neighborhoods.

  1. What are the new offers and services in the district?
  2. What coordination and control requirements are there?
  3. Which effects do the instruments of neighborhood development have?

Projekt Workflow
The project is being developed over seven working stages in close dialog with the municipalities involved. The starting point is the (1) survey of current developments and needs on the part of the municipality and the identification of relevant neighborhoods for the development of new integrated approaches to action. The identified neighborhoods will be bundled into (2) neighborhood families. (3) New offers and services in the neighborhood will then be broadly researched, systematically recorded, clustered, and typified. (4) Fact sheets will be created along the developed system, which will provide a well-founded overview and insight into the offers and services that may be relevant for the development of the neighborhood. The approaches determined from this stage will be subjected to an (5) interface analysis in order to identify potential synergies and conflicts with regard to space, users, and providing stakeholders.

With this state of knowledge, (6) action packages for the identified neighborhood families will be developed in different scenarios and the anticipated effects on the space and the target groups assessed. Building on this, (7) instruments for implementation will be systematically compiled and assessed in terms of their opportunities and risks.


Project Information

  1. Client
    Consortium of cities and housing associations supported by the German Association of Cities (Deutscher Städtetag)
  2. Project leader at RWTH
    Prof. Dr. Agnes Förster, Dr. Nina Berding, Angelina Bolten
  3. Project timeframe
    May 2020 to March 2022
  4. Services provided by the chair
    Project lead