To tackle the major environmental challenges, spatial planners need to take a stand. The aim of the seminar was to develop one's own spatial planning position on issues relating to the transformation of the existing building stock in the climate crisis and to communicate this in a publicly visible manner. Over the course of the semester, the students developed positions based on one of their elective modules. In discursive formats, they formulated and sharpened these positions and chose a medium to communicate them to the public. At the end of the semester, the positions and final products were presented to a larger audience and questions about the transformation of the stock in the climate crisis were discussed.

The course was led by Dragana Damjanovic (Research Unit Law) and Sibylla Zech (Research Unit Regional Planning and Regional Development).

Several young people are standing in front of a building and writing on a poster. There is a small tree with several pieces of paper with messages attached to it.

© Lina Martin.

Positions on the climate crisis in public space

One person presents the course to an audience using a presentation on a screen. The words "Kick-off", "Blitzlichter", "Drosendorf" and "Abschlussveranstaltung" can be read on the screen.

© Lina Martin.

Final presentation

Participants at the closing event chat at the groups' market stalls.

© Lina Martin.

Talks at the market stands

Four people smile at the camera. They are standing around a poster with the title Why Sponge City?

© Sibylla Zech.

Final presentation

Four people play a card game that the students have developed themselves.

© Sibylla Zech.

Card game at the final presentation

 Four people speak at a market stall on the subject of Plattenbau.

© Sibylla Zech.

Talks at the market stands

A person gives a presentation to an audience on the subject of rezoning building land.

© Dragana Damjanovic.

Final presentation

Three people puzzle.

© Sibylla Zech.

Doing a puzzle at the final presentation

The following positions were developed in the summer semester of 2024. The linked documents are only available in German.


Position #1 The Plattenbau deserves more love

Plattenbau buildings still have a significant influence on our European cityscape today. Even though they are labeled as ugly and monotonous by some, they are a part of our building and urban history that is worth protecting. In addition, due to their serial production, Plattenbau buildings can be renovated quite cheaply and quickly to meet current climate standards. Plattenbau complexes are extremely diverse: while some are still regarded as showcase projects for affordable housing, others have lost their former splendor. So should they just be demolished? We say no way! Under the motto " Plattenbau deserves more love", we examine the steps needed to adapt Plattenbau buildings to our modern living needs. In doing so, we are addressing topics such as stigmatization, mobility, community and apartment layouts. Take a look at our series of postcards and see for yourself what the Plattenbau has to offer!

Group: Christoph Brockmann, Reinhard Pichler, Sywen Schmidt & Maria Stetter         

Booklet on "The Plattenbau deserves more love", opens an external URL in a new window


Position #2 Legal obligation to rededicate building land without compensation and with a focus on climate protection

In the past, building land has been generously zoned - often without ensuring that developments conform to zoning regulations and without creating a compact and sustainable settlement structure. The result is extensive surpluses of building land. However, mobilizing all of this land and the associated continued sealing of soil and settlement expansion is no longer justifiable in view of the climate crisis and its effects.

But what should be done with the large amount of zoned building land available?

In order to ensure climate protection-oriented settlement development, such areas must be rededicated on a large scale. Currently, rezoning is legally difficult and very expensive due to compensation obligations. However, there is no right to the rezoning of building land or the preservation of the value of speculative properties. There is no practically feasible function for the rezoning of building land to grassland.

This is why we have defined 9 criteria that should form the basis for a legal obligation to rededicate land without compensation!

Group: Stefanie Löscher, Richard Hohenbichler, Stefan Michalica & Florian Peska

Folder on the redication of building land, opens an external URL in a new window


Position #3 Densification has many facades

This position, which deals with redensification, shows that in many places, developments are being built in the wrong places. New detached housing and commercial areas are often approved and built on so-called "greenfield sites", expanding the settlement area and sealing off more soil. This weakens the town centers and increases the vacancy rate. Existing structures should be preserved and upgraded through redensification such as closing gaps, reusing, converting and extending.

The "Zersiedel dich nicht" (Don't sprawl yourself) game is designed to show the various possibilities for redensification with different types of development. The game looks at rural and urban areas, each of which is characterized by the density of development. An important objective of spatial planning is to limit the amount of land used per day. However, the methods of redensification presented in the game are only possible if the legal framework is further developed.

Our game is aimed at children, young people and teachers and addresses the issue of sprawl. It is designed to playfully convey the importance of efficient land use and sustainable spatial planning.

Group: Mareike Kluth, Anke Meier, Lea Odparik & Rafaela Weiß

The game "Zersiedel dich nicht", opens an external URL in a new window / game cards, opens an external URL in a new window / game instructions, opens an external URL in a new window


Position #4 Strengthening clean mobility to save time!

How will people commute from rural areas to the city in the future? How can the commuters' need for motorized private transport be reduced? How can longer travel times be used efficiently?

Cars are often seen as the best solution for commuting to work, mainly because of the travel time: "I'd like to take the train, but I'm 25 minutes faster by car." But travel time is only one factor in efficiency. Public transport can save time: Writing emails on the train, cycling to the station instead of walking or taking a nap on the bus. These are just some of the many activities that are possible during the journey. Clean mobility saves time and this is demonstrated here. In addition, work will be done on the equipment of public transport to further enhance this effect.

Group: Valentin Auer & Julian Staritz

Short film on clean mobility, opens an external URL in a new window


Position #5 Water needs more space

Our spatial planning position on the climate crisis is clear: water needs more space, and the restoration of flowing watercourses is the key to saving lives. In the face of the increasing frequency of extreme weather events and flooding, it is essential that we give water more space to cope with these natural processes. In this context, "space" needs to be understood in many different ways: In the city, in the countryside, in nature, in industry, in agriculture and, last but not least, in everyone's mind.  
The renaturation of rivers and streams not only creates important habitats for a diverse flora and fauna, but also strengthens the resilience of our communities against the effects of climate change. 

Group: Jana Lenzke, Kathrin Langhans & Sebastian Plachetzky

Puzzle & info on "water needs need more space", opens an external URL in a new window


Position #6 Sharing instead of new buildings! Using invisible living space

In Austria, sharing living space instead of building new homes could be a solution to curb land used for housing, creating affordable living space and activating space in existing buildings. A particular focus here is put on single-family homes, which could be transformed to activate considerable living space. The advantages are numerous: the reduction in living space simplifies maintenance, generates rental income and reduces isolation in old age. Many single-family homes are occupied by just one or two people in 200 square meters of living space after the children of the family have moved out. In addition, conversions can create barrier-free ground floor areas for older generations.

The construction of new housing causes enormous CO2 emissions - in 2020 alone, 55,666 new homes were built in Austria, which equates to 7.2 million tons of CO2 per year. At the same time, 758,000 one-person households in Austria live in homes with three or more rooms. It is therefore crucial to make the "invisible living space" visible and utilize it.

Our position is supported by an interview with people who have already remodeled and now share their living space, a before and after model of such a remodel and an awareness quiz. This is presented in a transcript as well as an audio file to highlight the importance and benefits of using existing living space and reducing land consumption.

Group: Lara Gros & Katharina Marek

Photo of a floor plan for one residential party, opens an external URL in a new window / Photo of a floor plan for two residential parties, opens an external URL in a new window


Position #7 CLIMATE JUSTICE NOW! Climate change adaptations in the streetscape must protect those most affected.

Densely populated and heavily sealed urban areas are increasingly affected by the impacts of climate change, especially by extreme heat, year after year. Marginalized groups, who contribute the least to climate change, often live in precisely these areas. They suffer the most from the consequences of climate change because they have fewer opportunities to cool down. In order to address this injustice and implement climate justice, marginalized groups must become the focus of political and administrative measures for climate change adaptation in public spaces and these measures must be implemented consistently.

Group: Elena Freisleben, Leonie Glück & Lara Seel

Comic "Climate justice now!", opens an external URL in a new window


Position #8 Sponge city pays off!

We asked ourselves why the sponge city principle is not applied everywhere where it makes sense these days? After all, the advantages of the sponge city are definitely impressive: Increased tree vitality, storage of rainwater which leads to relief for the sewer system and supply for trees during dry periods, a reduced above-ground space requirement for trees, long-term cost savings and an overall increase in the quality of life in urban areas.

To find an answer to this question, we conducted research and interviews with relevant stakeholders from various sectors. The conclusion: the high costs are an argument against the construction of the sponge city, especially among political decision-makers and in the private sector.

However, our research showed that the investment in the sponge city is very worthwhile. According to experts, a sponge city tree will live for at least 80 years (or even longer, depending on the type of tree), while a regular city tree without a sponge city will only live for around 20 years. According to our calculations, which are based on calculations by the City of Bremen, a sponge city tree is more profitable by a factor of 6.8 (calculated on the assumed total lifespan of a tree with/without a sponge city).

Group: Juliana Haidinger, Sebastian Hummler, Sahin Kamer Cemre & Klaus Roselstorfer

Booklet on the sponge city, opens an external URL in a new window