Transformation of urban centres


TransZ is a research project of four universities and two municipal partners that investigates social, economic and ecological innovations in urban (sub)centers. In many cities, once vital centers are losing importance and appreciation. Not only as places of commerce and supply, but also as places of living, communication, residence and identity for the district, or the city as a whole in smaller cities. Commercial underutilization, vacant stores and apartments, properties in need of renovation, vacant lots and neglected public spaces are visible expressions of this development. Declining attractiveness and a negative image of the centers are the result. The research project is based on the hypothesis that new forms of participation can trigger sustainable transformations in the centers.

Research Question

The research is based on an stakeholder-oriented and transdisciplinary research approach. The research questions comprise four thematic complexes:

  • What forms of self-organization and governance can be observed in collaboratively oriented center development?
  • What integrating and activating qualities can meeting spaces and social infrastructures develop in the context of reallaboratories and how can these qualities be established?
  • What potentials for commitment and community action can be awakened and how?
  • What low-threshold opportunities for participation exist for the use and design of public space and what planning instruments are promising?


The key elements of the project are reallabors as an integral part of transformation research in the selected project areas. The researchers develop the concepts for the reallabors together with the local actors; they accompany the processes scientifically, evaluate them and develop transferable strategies for local stabilization, scalability and transfer to other spatial contexts. In addition to the evaluation of scientific literature, empirical surveys on site as well as qualitative and quantitative analyses form the center of the work.


TransZ supported local actors in various locations in implementing their ideas for sustainable development and strengthening the respective city (sub)centres. From the experience gained, overarching recommendations for action and advice for cooperative centre development were developed, which are structured along five thematic fields: (1) Targeted activation, (2) External support, (3) Local conditions, (4) Municipal tasks, (5) Research-related cooperation.

Project publication:

Simon-Philipp, Christina; Stoltenberg, Luise; Krüger, Thomas (Hrsg.) (2021): Mitten in der Stadt. Transformation urbaner Zentren. Ausgabe 3/2021 der Zeitschrift „Forum Stadt“

ManagementProf. Dr. Ing. Christina Simon-Philipp
PartnerDistrict Office Hamburg-Altona, HafenCity University Hamburg (HCU), Hamburg University of Applied Sciences (HAW), University of Applied Sciences and Arts, Hildesheim/Holzminden/Göttingen (HAWK), State Capital Stuttgart
Project e-mail
FundingFederal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF)
Call for proposalZukunftsstadt
Duration01.04.2020 - 31.03.2022


Name & Position E-Mail & Telephone
Professorin+49 711 8926 2616 8/3.51