ResearchKey Areas
Cluster Spatial Patterns and Settlement Structures

Cluster Spatial Patterns and Settlement Structures

© Foto Kasper Christensen, Mexico City 2, flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0


It is becoming increasingly difficult to distinguish between rural and urban as categories of spatial planning and design.  Interconnected spaces of urban and rural areas constitute a specific spatial structure in which settlements, open spaces and infrastructures overlap.  In addition, socio-economic patterns as well as cultural factors between individual ways of life and community building shape these space-structural integrated areas.  Despite these material and discursive processes of hybridization, policies and instruments of sponsorship relevant to space continue regarding urban and rural as separate entities.

The cluster aims to develop a new taxonomy of spatial patterns and settlement structures. Therefore, it reassesses and re-evaluates these structures against the backdrop of rural-urban integrated areas.  This view integrates the interrelated scale levels region – subregion – place.  The research emphasis will be on the registration, evaluation, development and design of spaces and processes of spatial transformation. Transdisciplinary research necessitates the cooperation between multiple scientific disciplines (e.g. regional, environmental and open space planning, architecture and urban planning/design, law, engineering, social sciences and humanities) and practitioners (administration, politics, economy, society) in sample spaces.  These laboratories of reality and the future constitute places of learning in which results and concepts are put to the test.  Accordingly, a corresponding objective is to capture the fundamental correlations impacting space completely, systematise them in a practical manner, and test them in a “sustainability experiment.” This includes working towards a changed scientific understanding of planning cultures and changing frameworks (planning regulations, sectorial areas of law). Moreover, an additional focus is to capture the effects of societal differentiation and change on new individual preferences. This especially includes researching the effects of digitalisation and its contribution to spatial transformation (e.g. with regards to mobility, supply, infrastructure). 


The cluster identifies six main research priorities which are investigated using a basic research- and/or an application-oriented approach.

  1. Formative research on place creation (accommodation and place development with transdisciplinary emphasis; formative research on architecture, urban design, place and open space planning)
  2. Research on economic, social and cultural production of urban and rural areas
  3. Strategies of settlement concentration (planning- and process-oriented projects for urban and rural co-operations)
  4. Progression of existing instruments of planning and control with regards to informal participation
  5. Development of a legal framework which is tailored more flexibly to new settlement structures
  6. New concepts of infrastructure for urban and rural areas which address spatial change in the context of digitalization and virtualization (survey of new technological possibilities and social change; multifunctionality and substitutability of infrastructures)


  • Interconnected spaces of urban and rural areas
  • Materialization and virtualization: trends in law and planning
  • Development and design of space: place creation
  • Planning processes for settlement concentration
  • Instruments of informal planning
  • New concepts of infrastructure


Cluster Chair
Dep. Cluster Chair
Additional Members