Socio-Geographic Urban Research

  Grafitti Unterführung Nähe Westbahnhof Copyright: © Kulturgeo  

Post-Corona City: "ACademy for Collaborative Urban Development"

Editing: Prof. Dr. Carmella Pfaffenbach, Prof. Dr. Agnes Förster, Prof. Anne-Julchen Bernhardt, Prof. Dr. Jan Polivka (Fakultät für Architektur) Prof. Dr. Tobias Kuhnimhof (Fakultät Bauingenieurwesen). Das Projekt ist eingebunden in den RRI Hub (Responsible Research and Innovation Hub).

An interdisciplinary team of scientists from RWTH Aachen University and experts from the city of Aachen is investigating the inner city of Aachen, which is characterized by structural change. As the current pandemic is expected to increase the number of vacant commercial premises, the aim is to develop useful new mixes for the vacant spaces.

By elaborating strategies for a sustainable development of the urban space, an increase in the quality of use, living and a good quality of stay for all involved is to be realized. Involving as many stakeholders as possible (traders and service providers, residents, students, cultural workers, associations etc.), the "ACademy for Collaborative Urban Development" will start in the summer of 2021. In a lively process, local experts (city, university and civil society) will jointly develop ideas and solutions and try them out on site.

Further information: Press release of the city of Aachen from 02.16.2021

Funded by the Federal Ministry of the Interior BMI Bund
Duration: summer 2021 until fall 2023


 Suburbanization of Poverty

Processed by: Carmella Pfaffenbach and Diane Matuschek with Prof. Dr. Stefan Fina and Dr. Sabine Weck (ILS Dortmund)

New spatial (de)concentration of low income and poor households in German city regions

Research on the spatial distribution of poor and low income households has so far mainly been discussed in the context of large cities and the rural periphery. Newer studies also observe an increase of affected households in suburban areas. Internationally, this trend is discussed as suburbanization of poverty.

In this project, we focus on three main objectives: 1) analysis of poverty concentrations and related locational disadvantages between suburban and other urban locations, 2) exploration of spatial development specifics and the influence of social policies in Germany, 3) study of locational characteristics as well as stakeholders’ perceptions in three case studies.

Funded by the German Research Foundation
Duration: 2020 - 2022


Spaces for children – also spaces of children?

Editing: Joel Teichmann

Sliding, swinging, climbing, running, digging and playing ball: In Playgrounds and other children's spaces children are supposed to spend their time, meet friends and be active. Such spaces are spaces for children created by adults. The dissertation aims to examine whether they are also spaces of children, i.e. spaces in which children like to spend time, voluntarily and actually do so. The central research question is: How does a space for children become a space of children?

Results of previous studies indicate that children frequent not only playgrounds, but also other places: including schoolyards, streets, construction sites, or parks. Among others, the goal of this work is to find out why children spend time there and and how they change these spaces through their actions. The empirical research methods used are largely qualitative methods such as observations, interviews and the creation of subjective maps. The research will take place in the city region around Aachen.

Duration: Since September 2020


Car-free living and mobility in cities and surrounding areas


PhD Project within Forschungskolleg ACCESS!, RWTH Aachen University

Processed by: Annika Herberg

Since the beginning of mass motorization in the late 1950s, everyday mobility and lifestyle in Germany have been strongly oriented towards the private car. However, around one fifth of all households do not own a car and travel by bike, public transport, rented car or foot. In the context of a necessary transformation of the transport sector on the one hand and alternative and sustainable living models on the other hand, these car-free households will be investigated in the dissertation.

By using qualitative research methods, the aim of the project is to gain a deeper understanding of everyday life, mobility, individual motives and backgrounds of car-free individuals and households who consciously decided to not own a private car. The study area will be the car-oriented city of Aachen as well as the surrounding region, an area that therefore does not offer the best preconditions for a life without a private car.

Funded by the Ministry of Culture and Science, North Rhine-Westphalia

Duration: 2021 – 2024


Temporality of Living

Places of Emotional Belonging and Everyday Practices
Processed by: Carmella Pfaffenbach and Maya Kretzschmar in company with Prof. Dr. Caroline Kramer (KIT Karlsruhe)

In general, housing is conceived as more or less permanent, both in everyday life as well as in scientific research. Limited duration of residence, fluctuation and multilocality as phenomena of housing have so far only been addressed in a metropolitan context. In suburban small and medium-sized cities, however, it is assumed that the duration of residence is significantly longer, that there is less fluctuation and that the proportion of people living multilocally is lower. This project critically examines these assumptions. Rather, we assume that the temporality of housing is not an exclusively metropolitan or inner-city phenomenon, but can also be observed in suburban locations, because the increasing temporality and mobility due to changing working environments are both societal and ubiquitous phenomena.

Against this background, this project aims to investigate both the quantitative dimensions of the temporality of housing and its effects on people's place attachment. In addition, reasons for the temporality of housing and perceptions of these arrangements are investigated from the perspective of the temporary residents. As study areas we have selected the two major cities of Frankfurt and Leipzig as well as four small and medium-sized towns in their suburban surrounding.

Funded by the German Research Foundation

Laufzeit: 2022 - 2025