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


Urban and rural areas as categories (of differentiation) for spatial planning and design become increasingly inseparable. Overlaps between settlements, open spaces, and infrastructures constitute interconnected spaces of urban and rural areas as specific spatial structures. Furthermore, socio-economic patterns and cultural factors between individual ways of life and new ways of community building shape these spatial structural interconnections. Despite these hybridization processes at the material and discourse level, spatial-relevant politics and sponsorships continue to differentiate between urban and rural areas.

The cluster's objective is to work out a new system of structures of space and settlements. Against the backdrop of interconnections of urban and rural areas, these structures will be recaptured and reassessed. The interdependent levels of measurement – region – subregion – place – will be integrated into this new method of approach. The research lays emphasis on the capture, assessment, development and design of space and spatial transformation processes. Transdisciplinary research requires the work of several academic disciplines(e.g. Regional, environmental, urban (open) space planning; law; engineering; the humanities) and agents in the field (e.g. administration, politics, industry, civil society) in suitable exemplary areas. (Future) Urban transition labs will be used as places of study of transformation, in which findings and concepts can be put to the test. Therefore, a corresponding objective is to completely capture, experienced based systematize, and test the fundamental space-effecting connections in a “sustainability experiment”. This includes working on a changed academic understanding of planning cultures and changing frameworks (planning law, sectoral areas of law). Furthermore, a focus will be kept on the effects of societal differentiation and change of new individual preferences. Especially the effects of digitization and its contribution to spatial transformation (e.g. mobility, supply, infrastructure) will be researched.


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 orientation; 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. Further development 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 context with digitization 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