Rapid urbanisation and other global transformation processes bring about new spatial formations and settlement types. At the same time, they create unprecedented challenges in urban development. Such challenges are the combined result of urbanization and economic globalization, consumption of resources, climate change as well as growing social and spatial fragmentation processes. These correlations and related challenges – such as urban inequality, environmental degradation and social conflict – are not confined to one single geographical context: they are local-global phenomena in an increasingly interdependent world.
We need to shift our perspective away from a one-sided knowledge transfer towards an exchange of experience.
Many of the phenomena of rapid urbanization, settlement development and housing provision that currently characterize cities in Africa, Asia and Latin America provide an indication of what lies in store for cities exposed to similar growth pressure. Such cities can be regarded as urbanism laboratories because they show impressive informal planning against a backdrop of limited resources and capacity.
Resolving the resultant challenges requires a detailed understanding of planning and urban design tasks. This is why our teaching and research focus is on the governance of urban transformation, on new constellations of actors in cities and the informalization of planning processes in order to contribute to spatially relevant solutions. The cornerstone is an integrated approach that combines planning and conceptual design with participation and co-production processes.
The department of International Urbanism seeks to contribute to critical urban research and policy discourse and is committed to addressing one primary question: what are the fundamentals and prerequisites for urbanism in an international context? International Urbanism provides a knowledge base for interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary urban research. As practitioners in the fields of urban design, urban development and international cooperation we apply our collective expertise to research and reality-based learning in a range of fields. We have a firm commitment to co-production of knowledge and seek to give students the capacity for critical urban thinking.
KEY RESEARCH AREAS
Our research focus is in urban governance and actor-related processes. Global urbanization processes, economic globalization, climate change and social transformation are all factors which influence urban development and are therefore spatially relevant in cities. How can we conceptualize the city as both a built and a living environment in the presence of these influences? Our applied research centres on improving the quality of urban life and seeking ways of making urban transformation sustainable. Possible fields of action include poverty reduction, social cohesion, cultural diversity, mobility, spatial form, climate change adaptation and mitigation or informal settlement upgrading. Urban governance and related discourses on actor-based planning, informalization, participation and co-production need to be considered as cross-cutting topics for further reflection. New transdisciplinary urban research formats are required to address the complexities of urbanism. Our aim is to apply new formats and to reflect on and develop innovations.
In recent years we have conducted research into participatory planning in the context of informal settlments in Cairo (Ezbet Project), experimented with catalyzing co-production processes in the realm of sustainable mobility culture (Future City Lab Sustainable Mobility Culture) and involved municipalities in a dialogue on the potential role of schools (both as institutions and buildings) to educate on sustainability and act as a catalyst for social processes in their neighbourhood (Reallabor Stadt-Raum-Bildung). We have promoted discussion on the spatial relevance of energy transition with regards to access to the Neckar river (WECHSEL) and on the importance of transnational grassroots networks in housing (“Housing for the Urban Poor: From Local Action to Global Networks”). We are involved in research networks (e.g. INTREPID on inter- and transdisciplinary research) and conduct workshops to trigger further research (e.g. on resilience in small and mid-sized cities in Vietnam and the Philippines or on the need for rebuilding in post-war Syria). Find out :
Our teaching comprises a wide spectrum of topics ranging from sustainable urban development to governance aspects in planning and contemporary challenges for cities. Teaching methods vary from comprehensive reading seminars based on problem-based learning, visionary workshops to urban design studios. Our background in developing tools and techniques in participatory planning influences our teaching style. We see group work, simulations and mappings as essential integral elements of the learning process. The chair hosts the international Master’s Program in Integrated Urbanism and Sustainable Design (IUSD).
Over the past years we have involved students in studios on border zones in Tijuana (Mexico), and Belfast (Northern Ireland), quality of life in Lviv (Ukraine) and Lisbon (Portugal), the inclusion of refugees (in Stuttgart and Leonberg) and localizing the Sustainable Development Goals in Belgrade (Serbia) and Stuttgart. Our seminars have ranged from media seminars supporting participatory scenario development with visualization techniques and documenting research activities using animated video clips (Future City Lab Sustainable Mobility Culture), seminars on innovative methods and tools for urban research, and critical reading seminars on topics such as the global agendas or the post-apartheid city.
WHO WE WORK WITH
The department of International Urbanism cooperates with leading urbanism departments, NGOs and other international and national development agencies. It represents the University of Stuttgart as a partner in the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDNS) of the United Nation and is member of the Network Association of European Researchers on Urbanisation in the Global South (N-AERUS) and TRIALOG e. V. – Association for Scientific Research into Planning and Building in the Developing World.