Europe city - Dialogues
IZS Kick-off meeting


Roundtable discussions (Photo: R. Bienas)


The Denksalon, held since 2005, is an annual event discussing current topics of urban development.

The event series Denksalon Ecological and Revitalizing Urban Renewal is a communication forum with a special open-minded culture of discussion. Keynote speeches from various disciplines form the basis for an intensive dialogue between science and practice and the development of new perspectives for urban development.

Themes :

2022 | Transition through in-migration in smaller cities and peripheralised regions: Requirements, potentials and experiences

Decarbonisation, demographic change, preservation of quality of life – especially smaller cities in peripheralised regions are facing enormous challenges, but having limited capacities to cope with them. At the same time, the need for profound change creates the opportunity to establish themselves as sustainable, competitive and attractive locations. In-migration can contribute to demographic stabilisation and address the challenges ahead through technical and social innovations.

Together with local partners, the IZS has for many years been developing the approach of "Living on Trial" to temporarily test out Görlitz as a place to live and work. We are currently investigating how temporary in-migration can gain contributions to the achievement of municipal climate neutrality and how this efforts can be implemented in the urban society.

We will address the following questions:

  • What are the requirements for in-migration from the perspectives of spatial planning, regional economy and municipalities?
  • What are the opportunities and risks of in-migration, including international immigration?
  • What experiences have been made in different contexts and what can be derived for urban research and urban development policy?

This year's Denksalon will be held in German Language.

Here you find the programme.

2021 | Structural Change = Social Chance? A turning point: the end of mining in Lusatia

With the conclusion of the so-called Coal Commission in January 2019 and its recommendation to completely phase out lignite mining by 2038, Lusatia is facing its second major structural shift since the 1990s. The complexity of this process is already becoming clear. With overlapping economic, social and political concerns, it is necessary to strike a balance across all levels.

The IOER has been accompanying the structural policy process in Lusatia since 2018. Building on previous findings, the Denksalon 2021 aims to foster the exchange of knowledge and experience between scientists and practitioners as well as with other lignite regions on the following questions:

  • How can we suitably address the complex set of problems and social challenges associated with structural change? Can such change be managed, planned or designed?
  •  How are federal states and municipalities tackling the challenges of structural change? What is their role? How can the process be managed while achieving a good balance across levels?
  • Who determines the future pathway? Where do the necessary impulses come from? And who is impacted by structural change?

These questions will be explored during the two expert forums on Friday and at the reflective dis-cussion on Saturday.

Programme, online registration and further information

Schlesisches Museum zu Görlitz
Brüderstraße 8, Untermarkt 4, D-02826 Görlitz

2020 | Digital conference within the project REVIVAL! - The revitalization of historic towns in Lower Silesia and Saxony

9 October 2020 | online

Due to the Corona-pandemic this year’s Denksalon will unfortunately not physically take place in Görlitz/ Zgorzelec as usual.

Alternatively, the IZS invites on October 9th 2020. The digital conference will address the research topics of the project REVIVAL! - The revitalization of historic towns in Lower Silesia and Saxony. In the project, which is funded by INTERREG Polska-Saxony 2014-2020, ten small and medium-sized towns in Southwestern Poland and Eastern Saxony intend to strengthen their architecturally valuable historic town centres with the support of three research institutions. The scientific research as well as the digital conference focus on the question how the (built) cultural heritage directly and indirectly contributes to quality of life and sustainable development in historic small and medium-sized towns in peripheral locations such as the project area. The bilingual event (German/ Polish) hence addresses both a professional public interested in research on small and medium-sized towns, (built) cultural heritage and urban quality of life science as well as scientists and stakeholders of town planning and politics in Germany and Poland.

The programme and registration form for this year’s digital conference CULTURAL HERITAGE AS A BUILDING BLOCK OF URBAN QUALITY OF LIFE are now available on the project webpage.

The IZS looks forward to the digital event and hopes to be able to invite for a standard Denksalon in Görlitz/ Zgorzelec in 2021.

2019 | Ecological and Revitalizing Urban Renewal: Urban experiments as an instrument of urban development

Testing the City - urban experiments as an instrument of urban development

13th and 14th of September 2019 at the Silesian Museum in Görlitz

The event will be held in German.

Further information about the Denksalon 2019 in German

2018 | A Park like a Bridge

Green spaces as a connecting element in the city and region

21 and 22 September 2018 in Görlitz

Can urban green spaces and regional green corridors help overcome municipal, national or socio-spatial borders?

In the German-Polish European city of Görlitz-Zgorzelec, a so-called “bridge park” is currently being created through the renovation and linking of parks and green areas. This will offer new recreation possibilities and allow diverse activities, thereby bringing together residents and visitors of both cities as well as fostering cross-border exchange and closer integration. Green spaces in the city and region fulfil a wide range of functions. As well as offering space for nature and providing diverse welfare services for local residents, they serve to shape the face and identity of cities and regions. They also have the potential to overcome barriers and strengthen commonalities. On the basis of international and local examples, the Denksalon 2018 intends to show how the realisation and design of “green bridges” can enhance the spatial environment of people while strengthening the social interaction of various user groups in the city as well as in the region. [more]



2017 | Urban Transformation in Görlitz- in between revitalization and protection of historical monuments

This year's Denksalon was about the revitalisation of historical cities in cooperation with historic preservation. Representatives from practice and science have met for the thirteenth time in the Europastadt Görlitz/Zgorzelec, to discuss the current challenges and to find an answer to the question, if revitalisation and historic preservation operate in a field of tension or if they are influencing each other in a positive way. [more]

2016 | Quality of life in the city – green infrastructure and cultural heritage

The focus of this year’s Denksalon was the quality of the built environment and the green spaces in the city in relation to their contribution to the attractiveness of municipalities and the well-being of their residents. For the 12th time, representatives from science and practice met in Görlitz/Zgorzelec to discuss current topics and challenges. At the same time, Professor Dr. Robert Knippschild, the new director of the IZS, presented the future  guidelines for research at the interdisciplinary centre. [more]

2015 | Small and medium-sized cities – laboratories for urban renewal

The Denksalon in 2015 focused on challenges, strategies and experiences of ecological and revitalizing urban renewal in small and medium-sized cities. The main research questions which have been addressed in the conference are: What are the challenges of small and medium-sized cities to cope with demographic and socio-economic change and requirements for ecological transformation? What are the differences in comparison to bigger cities? What kind of strategies and approaches are followed by small and medium-sized cities to achieve their objectives? What are the experience of stakeholders regarding the implementation of concrete measures of ecological and revitalizing urban renewal in small and medium-sized cities? [more]

2014 | Ecological Urban Tranformation in Europe

Speakers and guests from Germany, Czech Republic, Latvia, Switzerland, Great Britain, Hungary, and Poland discussed interests and driving forces for ecological urban renewal, the experiences and potentials different stakeholders made during implementation, as well as challenges and limitations for future urban development. [more]

2013 | Ecological Urban Renewal: Demands – Opportunities – Limits

The workshop brought together researchers and practitioners to take stock of recent developments in research, policy and practice across Germany, Poland, Czech Republic, Switzerland and Austria. Embedded in the overall issue of standardisation of urban sustainability, the workshop focused on already existing cities and neighbourhoods (urban retrofit), with an emphasis on historical or listed quarters. Within the framework of an ecological urban renewal actors here have to deal with a gentle use of resources, a responsible handling with the cultural and building heritage of the European city and the additional requirements of liveable and competitive cities.  [more]


The Denksalon has been held annual since 2005 in Görlitz-Zgorzelec. Between 2005 and 2012 the symposium has been organized as Denksalon Revitalizing Urban Development by the Görlitz Centre for Expertise in Urban Revitalization. [more]