The European City – between self-organisation and controllability

The development of urban agglomeration is characterised by periods of growth, stagnation or shrinkage. In view of the complex developments of towns and cities and their municipal systems, a generally valid explanation in intercultural and intercontinental comparison can scarcely be found to cover such periods in urban development. It is far more the case that today three basically different paradigmatic approaches dominate the scientific discourse.

Within the perspectives of the social sciences, urban development and the urban regional process of urbanisation (1) are seen as dependent on economic, demographic and social processes in compliance with a basically existent path dependency. These processes lead to similar distribution patterns in cities. (Structure-oriented approach towards the fordist city) Likewise In the tradition of the social sciences, urban development (2) is also interpreted according to its individuality, autonomy and “willfulness” based on differing regulation by urban stakeholders, or because of firmly anchored economic and cultural patterns. (Control/governance-related approach to the post-fordist city and the generation of territorial capital). These two approaches are confronted by a third, which has an evolutionary perspective (3) and sees urban development as based on general regularities subject to spatial self-regulation. (Approach based on regularity-related processes supporting smaller-scale dynamics in the urban space)
The following objectives will be targeted in this field of research:

  1. Interdisciplinary discussion of the three paradigmatic, theoretical approaches, also the methodological discussion of the measurability of central processes.
  2. Analysis of the controllability and potential in designing and managing urban development (government and governance), meanwhile precisely specifying the meaning and function of planning, urban design and architecture.
  3. Development of approaches to action in the urban and metropolitan control on different scale levels, with special consideration of planning, urban design and architecture.

Research sectors are viewed on multiple levels (the individual, buildings, milieu and urban region, also Europe) and their relation to different areas of urban development, with a special focus on the individuality and perspectives of the European city.