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03/27/2023 | Press Release

Unexplored Suburbia: Is the Future of Cities Back in the Suburbs?

A large part of the population lives in the "suburban area" - in suburbs and outskirts of cities. But while the inner city and attempts to revitalize it are the focus of general interest, the periphery is considered practical but boring. Yet a great deal has been happening there in recent years. A research group from urban planning, landscape planning and the social sciences is investigating whether the future of the city is emerging in the periphery.

View from Frankfurt/Main.Image: Florian Bellin-Harder.
In many places, new suburbs are emerging. View from Frankfurt/Main.

"In recent years, a lot has changed in the outskirts of cities," describes Prof. Dr.-Ing. Uwe Altrock, head of the Department of Urban Renewal and Planning Theory and spokesman for the group. "Rising demand for housing is again leading to the creation of entire urban neighborhoods, but cities want to do it better than in the past. These neighborhoods often aspire to be urban and livable, conserving resources and providing functions otherwise associated with centers, such as jobs or vibrant town squares. But does it work?"

This is a core question of the new research group. What future of living and coexistence is emerging in the new neighborhoods? Do they work, and if so, what does life look like there? Or is reality forcing cutbacks from the grand plans? The German Research Foundation (DFG) is funding the research group "Urban Expansion in Times of Reurbanization - New (Sub-)Urbanity" headed by the University of Kassel with an estimated 3.3 million euros, it announced today.

Over the next four years, the research group will combine perspectives from urban and regional planning, open space and landscape planning, and spatial social sciences. Subprojects will deal, for example, with the underlying urban planning models of large-scale urban expansions, the interaction with infrastructure or with biodiversity in new development areas. Large-scale projects in or near Berlin, Hamburg, Munich, Frankfurt/Main and Freiburg are examined as examples. In Freiburg, for example, the climate-neutral Dietenbach district for around 16,000 people is currently being built at a cost of around 1.3 billion euros.

The research group involves seven departments at the University of Kassel, HafenCity University in Hamburg, and the Technical and Humboldt Universities in Berlin.



Dr. Henriette Bertram
University of Kassel
Department of Urban Renewal and Planning Theory
Email: henriette.bertram[at]asl.uni-kassel[dot]de
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