Completed projects of the IZS

Urban Transformation in the field of tension in between revitalization and protection of historical monuments: "Urban transformation- Matrix Görlitz"

street in Görlitz
Photo: Robert Knippschild / IÖR

During the last 25 years, more than three-quarters of the valuable protected historical monument buildings in Görlitz have been refurbished. However, massive losses of the population have led to vacancies, that can't be compensated, even by the predicted population growth.

In some districts grievances in the urban development and social segregation are still continuing. This is why a new and more valuable use in the areas of living, trading, services and commerces is necessary, for which certainly a demand exists.
However, the realisation of those renewals can hardly be realised within the old floor plans of the buildings without substantial changes. Thereby is the main goal of the urban development to keep the town in its size and structure.

By using an "urban development- matrix", easily applicable guidelines have been prepared, to create a balance between the housing- and building stock and the protected historic monuments. New tenant clientele and new usages will be attracted by allowing otherwise usages.  
Due to the "Matrix", decisions shall be supported and more transparent, concerning questions like to what extent the structure of buildings can be changed and what kind of usages can be possible in protected historic monuments.

The aim of the project was to support the trial phase of the "urban development - Matrix" by evaluating the methods and usages during the decision making process. The question should be answered as to whether the "urban development - Matrix" is a suitable tool to handle potential conflicts between the revitalization of city centres and the protection of historical monuments.

In the course of a Germany-wide research, it became apparent that there are hardly any comparable approaches, which underlines the innovative character of the Urban transformation Matrix.

The matrix was intensively discussed both in the German-speaking professional public (Denksalons Ökologischer und revitalisierender Stadtumbau 2018 on the topic of "Urban transformation in the field of tension in between revitalization and protection of historical monument" on 22 and 23 September 2017 in Görlitz) and on site (German-Polish Europastadt-Gespräch on the Urban Transformation Matrix on 1 June 2017 in Görlitz).

Two lectures ( Network Conference 2017 on 14 September 2017 in Sofia and the annual conference of the Working Group Urban Renewal on 22 June 2018 in Kaiserslautern) resulted in a publication in German language (Jahrbuch Stadterneuerung 2020: Stadterneuerung in Klein- und Mittelstädten, Springer) and English language (volume "The Role of Public Sector in Local Economic and Territorial Development", Springer).

Period: 02/2017 – 06/2019

Protection and development of biological diversity as part of the integrated urban development by considering the option of the German urban development funding
Photo: S. Rößler

The integration of protection and development of biological diversity within the urban development became an important topic of the national, local and organisational conservation.  Especially the creation and revalue of green spaces - as part of the biodiversity- is an important step stone for the improvement of the attractivity of towns and communities as living and economic sites. Although fundamental diverse synergies exist between the goals of conservation and landscaping on the one hand and the urban development on the other hand and even though there are a lot of good attempts in practice, protection and development of biodiversity are still not extensively integrated into urban development.

According to the great value of the instruments of urban development for the development of green spaces- especially within the urban development stock- the integration of "green- and free spaces" are an explicit part of the fundings in all programmes of the urban development since 2015.

Next to the further development of the framework through the Federation and states, conservation and landscaping find a need for action by the communities to create suitable concepts and to enrol projects on site. Urban development projects, that use urban green to remedy urban development grievances, are rarely seen in a conceptional connection to city-wide green space plannings and to the goals of conservation and landscaping. Possibilities of urban development fundings, for the protection and further development of biodiversity in populated areas, will be analysed and evaluated within the project and recommendations for action will be provided for the communities.

  • What kind of framework conditions are offered by the current legal requirements for the implementation of urban development fundings to integrate the interests of biodiversity in cities?
  • Which potentials and obstacles are communities facing by the integration of the interests of biodiversity as part of the urban development funding?  
  • How can communities promote the integration of interests of the biodiversity as part of the urban development funding?

Basing on an operationalisation of the interests of the biodiversity in cities and the analysation of the framework for the implementation of urban development funding, interfaces between both subjects will be identified. An analytic framework for the empiric work in the project will be based on this foundation.

Five communities have been chosen after a nationwide selection. Currently, those communities are striving to implement various conceptual strategies to meet the goals of national biodiversity.  They are receiving funds on a project basis for urban development funding or are planning to.  Those communities are scientifical attended and receive support through workshop meetings with the development and update of concepts for urban development, that are mandatory for urban development funding.

Therefore, successful process sequences which lead to a conservation orientated urban development- urban renewal- need to be discussed.

The outcome of the evaluation and the workshop meetings offer the foundation for the recommendation for work. The communities integrate the interests of biodiversity into the urban development funding on this basis.

The project will be managed by the Institute for housing and environment (IWU), Darmstadt in cooperation with "NH ProjektStadt" – a brand of the group of companies  "Nassauische Heimstätte/Wohnstadt", Frankfurt/M.

Periode: 09/2016 – 01/2018

Funding:  Federal Agency for Nature Conservation, research and development projects (FKZ 3516 82 1900)

Biological diversity and conservation within the support programme urban development

Blick auf Wohngebiet Halle-Silberhoehe, vorn Grünflächen, hinten Platennbauten
Photo: S. Rößler

It has been proven, that green spaces and therefore urban biological diversity are important for a successfully integrated urban development with the aim of a sustainable, attractive city worth living in. At the same time, there are special preconditions for the biological diversity, concerning their characteristics as well as their conservation and development needs. The urban development stock represents concerning those aspects a special challenge. The tools of urban development,- legal, regarding the special urban planning legislation, as well as fiscal, regarding urban development assistance and planning, regarding integrated urban development concepts are building the frame to implement aspects of open space and conservation.  The urban development programme (Stadtumbau Ost" and "Stadtumbau West") plays an important role in the development of open spaces.  In the administrative agreement:  "urban development assistance" for the year 2015, the implementation of green and open spaces had been explicit embedded as a part of all programmes.

The aim of the report for the Federal Agency for Nature Conservation is the evaluation of the potentials and the borders for the integration of goals and actions to support the biological diversity and the conservation in the city as part of the urban development assistance programme east and west.

Considering the professional and now explicit (funding-) policy relevant anchoring of the subject "green spaces" within the urban renewal, questions about how interests of open space planning, nature conservation in towns and support of the biodiversity can be addressed  in terms of the urban development are coming up:

  • What kind of framework conditions are offered by the federal- and regional political strategy, planning and conservational regulations, funding programmes and regulations for the integration and implementation of goals and measures to support the biodiversity and conservation of the terms of urban development within the stock?
  • What kind of opportunities are offered by the integrated urban development concept considering the interests of nature conservation in towns and the support of the biodiversity?
  • How to implement the goals of nature conservation in towns and the support of biodiversity into concrete projects of the urban development? 

The processing takes place in several work packages:


At first, frame building programmes, laws and strategies are examined concerning their management- and incentive potentials to anchor the interest of supporting biodiversity and the nature conservation within urban renewal.
On this basis, interfaces between requirements and approaches of urban development and the implementation of the goals of national biodiversity strategies can be worked out. In particular, a legal evaluation of the nature conservation in towns and the biodiversity in terms of urban development takes place.


To make a state concerning the role and suitability of integrated urban development concepts to take into account the interests of nature conservation in towns and the support of biodiversity, selected concepts will be analysed through document analysis and expert interviews.


With criteria to anchor the interests of biodiversity and nature conservation, already implemented projects or projects in a concrete planning phase are researched and evaluated concerning their impact on the nature conservation in towns and the support of biodiversity (especially programmes as "Stadtumbau Ost" and "Stadtumbau West").

As result of the project, chances and borders of the planned integration and concrete implementation of goals and measures to support the biodiversity and the nature conservation in terms of urban development of the stock are summarised. References to interfaces and recommendations in term of urban development will be formulated.

Period: 10/2015 – 03/2017

Funding: Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN).

"Probewohnen Altstadt" in Görlitz

Blick auf die Altstadt von Görlitz
Photo: Benno Brandstetter

More than 200 people have lived for a trial, one-week rental free in the Görlitz "Altstadt" (historical centre)  in the period of September 2015 till October 2016. They just had to pay the operating costs. This trial living had the purpose of answering the question if a move to Görlitz would be an option and to make the City known as an attractive place to live.
This trial also offered people from different districts of Görlitz to taste the living in the Görlitz "Altstadt".
This project had been led by the city housing association  "KommWohnen Görlitz GmbH". They provided three furnished flats for this trial. The City of Görlitz supported this project and the IZS performed scientific studies.

The relaunch of the project from 2008 and 2010 found great approval.  At the end of the deadline of application in January 2016, more than 300 applications from all over Germany and aborad have been received. Especially people from  North Rhine-Westphalia, Saxony, Berlin and Baden-Wuerttemberg were interested in trying a "living" in the Görlitzer "Altstadt". Also, the offer seemed to be more interesting for older people, that are already retired and were looking for a new centre of life, or for people who are about to retire and already spend thoughts about how to spend the next stage of life. But also young families with children showed great interest in living in the Görlitzer "Altstadt". The project addressed people who have already a connection to the city and the region as well as people who until then just heard or read about the "Altstadt" with all its historical buildings and wanted to gain some first-hand impressions.

All participants of the project had been declared as experts in evaluating the housing conditions in the Görlitzer "Altstadt".  They received questionnaires before, during and after their stay which included questions about their current housing conditions, but also different aspects of the residential location  Görlitzer Altstadt.  

From the perspective of the project partners, the results are very pleasing:  The respondents give the city already a good testimony in many areas.  Almost 80 percent find Görlitz attractive and could see themselves moving to this city on the River Neisse.  But the results of the survey also shows areas with a need for action.

The results of the accompanying study had been presented to interested media representatives on the 2nd of February 2017.
Furthermore, they are made available for the "KommWohnen Görlitz GmbH" and the city of Görlitz, to take into account the residential desires and housing needs in the urban development for the future.

Simulation Game: "adjustment of peripheral settlement structures" (MORO preliminary study)

Feldweg führt zu einem alten Gehöft
Photo: S. Rößler

In the course of adjustment to the consequences of demographic change in rural, peripheral settlements, discussions about the political acceptance of the possible local planning option "strategic retreat" from splinter settlements and smaller districts may be necessary.
The considerations about "strategic retreat" come with uncertainties by the actors about the legal and financial consequences of such a tool.  Much greater are the uncertainties regarding the local- and regional political dynamics and reactions, that would be caused by considerations like this. 

Spatial Development  (BBSR), with a focus on content related and organisational aspects.

In preparation for the simulation game regarding those questions, a preliminary study will be implemented for the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (BMVI) and the Federal Institute for Research and Building, Urban Affairs and The Leibniz Institute of Ecological Urban and Regional Development (IÖR) compiles the scientific foundations for the options for action in the areas of building stock, technical, traffic-, social and cultural infrastructure and evaluate the legal practicability.

Scientists from the Interdisciplinary Centre for Ecological and Revitalising Urban Transformation (IZS) are working on that project (Dr Stefanie Rößler, Christian Schneider) as well as the research fields "resource efficiency of settlement structures"  (Dr Georg Schiller) and "strategic questions and perspectives" (Prof. Dr Gerold Janssen).

The project will be implemented under the leadership of Gertz Gutsche Rümenapp from the urban development and mobility GbR, Hamburg in cooperation with proloco, Bremen.

Period: 02/2015 – 01/2016

Funding: Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (BMVI) through the Federal Institute for Research and Building, Urban Affairs and Spatial Development  (BBSR)