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KoopLab: Integration through the Cooperative Development of Open Spaces – Real-World Labs Strengthening the Socio-Ecological Development of ‘Arrival Neighbourhoods’
Client:German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF)
Partner(s): Freie Universität Berlin/ Institute of Geographical Sciences (Coordination); Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research GmbH (UFZ); Plan zwei. Stadtplanung und Architektur GbR; ANNALINDE gGmbH; City of Dortmund / Ombudstelle für Bürgerinteressen und -initiativen; Planerladen e.V.; i.a.
Time frame:01/2018 – 09/2021

The accelerated social and ethnic heterogenisation of German society poses specific challenges for the sustainable development of settlement structures and open spaces which facilitate the social and spatial integration of immigrants, especially recently arrived refugees. The project KoopLab aims to analyse the conditions under which different social and ethnic groups may successfully participate in the development and use of open spaces in arrival neighbourhoods. With the installation of real-world labs in three selected cities (Hannover, Leipzig, Dortmund), KoopLab will explore the cooperative development of open spaces, analysing the influence of contextual factors at the neighbourhood and city level. Factors both supporting and hindering cooperative open space development will be identified.

Presently, there is a lack of knowledge on the conditions which enable integration and social cohesion and which decrease socio-ecological inequalities on the neighbourhood scale. Which actors and interests have to be involved, and how should potential and appearing conflicts be addressed? This decisive practical knowledge is in high demand, especially among municipalities. One important field this knowledge serves is the upgrading and shaping of open spaces as places for leisure, recreation and encounter.

The real-world labs should help researchers assess the potential of open spaces for integrating the local population and improving the socio-ecological quality of the neighborhoods. The focus of KoopLab lies on different groups of inhabitants, including both long-term and recently arrived residents, and their specific wants and needs. The labs will provide the basis for learning processes concerning temporary, target-group oriented and cooperative urban planning. On the one hand, they are the places in which a cooperative design (garden, playground, etc.) will be implemented. On the other hand, they can serve as spaces of encounter, communication and negotiation for project participants. These participants include residents, as well as municipal, civic society and housing market actors. Urban planning offices and the scientific partners will moderate, observe and analyse the processes. Finally, project results will be transferred to other municipalities through mentoring partnerships.

The project comprises a total of 14 cooperation partners in the three cities. The Research Institute for Regional and Urban Development – ILS will continuously accompany and analyse the real-world lab process for Dortmund. The scientific leadership for the labs in Hannover and Leipzig will be led by the Institute for Migration Research and Intercultural Studies of the Universität Osnabrück (IMIS, Osnabrück) and theHelmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ, Leipzig).

The project is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research.

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