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Focus Project “Trends and Drivers of Urban Spatial Development”
Client:In-house Research Project
Partner(s):Heidelberg University; Leibniz Institute of Ecological Urban and Regional Development (IOER)
Time frame:01/2018 – 12/2020

Urban spatial development is marked by diverging, sometimes contradictory developmental dynamics and by the interaction of different social megatrends (like, for instance, globalisation, digitalisation and social heterogenisation) as well as by local and/or regional initial conditions. Both within and between urban regions, mutually reinforcing as well as contradictory processes of concentration and deconcentration are occurring. These affect the distribution of: (a) residential locations of the population, (b) employees and businesses, as well as the underlying location decisions of households and businesses, and also (c) the networking within the daily urban system on the basis of transport infrastructure and mobility options. Scientific debates on demographic and economic processes of concentration and deconcentration, as well as their interaction with factors determining accessibility, are frequently disciplinary in character and are conducted separately from each other. This is the case even though, in the course of the dissolution of the boundaries between working and private life, essential influencing factors – so runs our hypothesis – are the product of their interaction and are assumed to reciprocally reinforce each other.

From an integrative perspective, the project endeavours to assemble the drivers of urban spatial development in the areas of housing, work and everyday mobility. In the first phase of the project, we conceptualised a qualitative impact model revolving around different concepts and explanatory approaches, and to explain the driving logics behind the upwards and downwards movements on the urban/regional development path. In the second phase of the project, individual drivers and their directions of action will be examined with quantitative spatial analyses from a spatial scientific macro perspective within the German city regions e.g.

  • the commuter interlinkages/commuter flow as indicator for urban regional shifts at the interface between residence and work
  • the land and real estate markets as indicator for the question of under what conditions “spillover effects” arise in urban regions.

Case-studies of individual national and international urban regions can help us to have a clearer view of local or regional particularities, path-dependencies and influencing factors that cannot then be quantified over all cases. In the final phase of the project, the empirical results obtained will be fed back into the impact model and we will test whether knowledge of the developmental paths in urban regions gives insight into the validity of the model.

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