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Research at the Faculty of Spatial Planning, TU Dortmund

The School of Spatial Planning at TU Dortmund University is one of the largest institutions for research and education in the field of Urban Planning in Europe. In collaboration with other departments at TU Dortmund University, the Research Institute for Regional and Urban Development (ILS) in Dortmund as well as other research institutions in the field of spatial research in the Ruhr Area, the School of Spatial Planning plays an essential role in the outstanding spatial research landscape in Europe. Our research and education is complemented by close cooperation in the framework of the University Alliance Ruhr, particularly with the Ruhr University in Bochum in the field of Metropolitan research, the Wuppertal Institute in the area of climate, environmental and energy research as well as the Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities (KWI) in Essen.

The overarching research agenda of the school and its partners is directed at strategic as well as emerging transformation processes of cities and regions as to their technical, structural and socio-economic dimensions and corresponding land use patterns – for instance in the fields of mobility or economy. The international debate about “Planetary Urbanism”, the UN Habitat III process as well as the Urban Agenda of the European Union further confirmed and emphasized the significance and role of the mentioned topics the spatial sciences.

The research agenda of the School of Spatial Planning is oriented alongside two thematic clusters, each subdivided into two fields:



Design of Metropolitan areas

  • Transformation and design of polycentric city regions                                            
  •  Land use planning and urban development in the global south                               


Cluster I addresses issues of design of spaces and places, and elaborates interventions for cities and regions in the framework of applied case study research. Furthermore, this cluster monitors and evaluates existing procedures with regard to their effectiveness, and experiments with new planning approaches, for instance concerning the conservation of historic monuments, urban regeneration in an era of energy transition, or urban and regional development in shrinking economies. The focus is directed particularly at interventions and solutions as well as instruments and processes for planning practice. This comprises explicitly the reflection upon planning processes, procedures, and institutional conditions for planning. The close cooperation with external partners from the field is fundamental for this area of research.



Challenges of spatial development

  • climate change, energy transition and spatial planning
  • mobility, migration and socio-demographic change                     

Cluster II assesses fundamental contemporary dynamics of spatial development – such as migration, mobility on larger and smaller scales, climate change, demographic change, suburbanisation, re-urbanisation, and economic transformation – and applies these to the development of infrastructures, particularly with regard to challenges and potentials of new technologies. Of utmost concern is the further elaboration of methods for spatial analysis, evaluation and prediction of dynamics of spatial development aiming at reduction of uncertainty(evidence-based planning), as well as the development of corresponding strategies for the application of technology.

These two clusters differ fundamentally methodologically and epistemologically, whereas synergies are to be expected with regards to topics and staff. While Cluster II makes use of models, scenarios and large-n studies (spatial monitoring), Cluster I emphasizes case studies, “reality labs”, process observation, and comparative-qualitative designs.