City Planning - Architecture - Society

Editors: Prof. Dr. Harald Bodenschatz, Prof. Dr.-Ing. Barbara Schönig

City planning and architecture shape every step of our everyday life. They open up scope, but also restrict it. Traditionally, few people – owners, entrepreneurs, politicians, administrators – decide on urban development and architecture. They decide within the framework of the given social conditions and according to their interests and abilities, and despite democratic structures, by no means always to the satisfaction of the population. Today, city planning and architecture are increasingly becoming the subject of broad social debate. This in turn changes the decision-making processes. This is fundamentally to be welcomed. For social debate is necessary – especially in view of the current dramatic challenges facing city planning and architecture.

We all know: Our cities are undergoing profound economic and social change. The more or less precise keywords of this change are climate change, energy shortages, globalization, an aging society, increasing social differentiation, dwindling public resources, partial shrinkage of cities. Central features of post-war industrial societies, such as relatively short periods of education, clearly defined lifestyles of certain age groups, stable jobs, a certain daily rhythm, a certain annual rhythm, long-term partner relationships, a firm place in political and social institutions, comparatively stable sources of public sector income, low energy prices, etc. are disappearing. But what these changes mean for architecture and city planning in detail is anything but clear. What is sustainable architecture, sustainable urban development? What should city planning and architecture do for society in the future? This has to be discussed critically, new objectives have to be worked out in open discourse, the right ways and means have to be fought over together.

The dispute about one’s own city, one’s own district, one’s own street or one’s own house is often conducted in isolation: Not In My Backyard (NIMBY). Such an attitude is not very sustainable, but it can also draw attention to fundamental problems. What is needed above all are strategies that benefit the entire city, the entire city region, and ultimately the entire planet. In order to be able to lead this dispute successfully, comprehensive knowledge, an intensive exchange of historical and international experiences is required.

This series of publications on the tension between city planning, architecture, and society aims to contribute to this.

ibidem Press