Understanding the Post-Industrial City:

metropolis, urban renewal and public space




[FINAL PROGRAMME now available]


The Research Programme


Understanding the Post-Industrial City: Metropolis, Urban Renewal and Public Space is a joint research exchange programme on post-industrial urbanism between the Bauhaus-Universität Weimar and the Technical University Lisbon, Portugal. East-German and Portuguese cities have been experiencing rapid changes in the run of processes that can be marked as "post-industrialism".  The emergence of a new dynamic of industrial production with a higher degree of mobility, consumption, cultural and social reproduction has major impact on life in cities.


Portugal and Germany hold evident differences on what urban planning approaches are concerned. Germany is a Central European large country whereas Portugal is the westernmost country in Southern Europe, directly facing the Atlantic. Nevertheless, some of the East-German and Portuguese cities have been experiencing rapid changes in the run of processes that can be marked as "post-industrialism", and similar urban phenomena may be found like the growth of the service sector, the increase of the industrial unemployment, the recession of the industrial areas, sprawl in peripheral areas, social exclusion and the emergency of multi and intercultural relations, the arising of new tensions and social urban conflicts, just to name a few consequences related to our way of urban planning and development.


Although located peripherally in Europe, urban planning in Portuguese cities, as well as in most of the occidental cities during the XX th century is obviously marked by an industrial economy including its needs, infrastructure and the successive changes in the logic of industrial location and commuting relationships which have impacted directly on population increase and different approaches to sprawl phenomena. The 25th of April Revolution in 1974, and further on Democracy, as well as the integration of Portugal in 1986 contributed undoubtedly for such an urban development. This political and economical change brought significant differences with various origins, which at some levels may be compared to East-German cities, especially after the reunification and the consequent need to approaches to urban planning from new viewpoints, which can already be observed in the post-socialist urban agenda. Today, the failure of an industrial economy, which in Portugal depended on a large colonial empire, lost in the meanwhile, together with an intensive exploitation of labour-force and the growth of the services is observed. Moreover the development, cities, like Lisbon, need to rethink its forms of development.


East-German cities are undergoing, particularly Berlin, profound changes mainly after the Fall of the Wall, in 1989, and, thus are still in transitional phases. Only few cities like Leipzig have been able to build up a substantial service sector economy. They experience other major trends in society like demographic changes and multi-culturalism. In a sociological context Lisbon and the East-German cities have also a few aspects in common, such as experiencing a fast multi-layered transition, specifically when comparing to West German and Western and Central European cities.


While exchanging previous experiences, both teams have realized that comparative work on this area of knowledge, specifically between East German cities (Berlin) and Portugal (Lisbon) had never been done before in such a transversal way. As both teams intend to establish this comparison in an interdisciplinary approach - including architects, urban planners and designers, artists, political and social scientists – this research project might present an innovative approach with respect to the multidimensional phenomena, like urban development, which could prove to accomplish a work of great opportunity in the presents days.The comparison between Portugal (Lisbon) and East Germany (Berlin) will deliver a clear picture of the differences and communalities in both countries, as it is related to comparable patterns of urban development in terms of metropolisation, re-definition of urban regeneration policies and the definition of “good” strategies in order to create or to innovate on public spaces. It will thus produce a deeper knowledge pointing out the crucial elements of urban development under circumstances of post-industrialisation.


The engaged scientists and also possible "users" of the results will be given the opportunity to learn and to understand which similar macro-processes (metropolisation, post-industrialism etc) are framing urban development and what the room to manoeuvre is for architects, urban planners, artists and social scientists to understand and design the particular places in their own country. It will, in this sense, enrich the perspective of all included persons by showing alternative approaches and strategies under similar conditions.The project focuses on the current state of affairs in urban development and it aims at working out an analysis and, furthermore, to advance on the proposal for concrete projects in the concerned cities.













The Research Programme


Joint PhD Seminar