To content
Department of Spatial Planning


The Department of Spatial Planning and Planning Theory deals with the interdependencies between spatial development and governance processes on the supra-local level (transnational, national, statewide and regional). Research activities are based on the assumption that spatial planning as an applied science is not only geared towards description, explanation and prognoses of spatial phenomena (cognitive scientific objective) but also towards support for spatial decision processes (normative scientific objective). Starting point is the question, how appropriate strategies and instruments can be designed in order to realize the maxim of sustainable urban and regional development. In this context, integrated governance approaches enabling local and regional stakeholder to act strategically are particularly emphasized.

In the end the work is supposed to contribute to a better understanding of how the production of space is related to the action of societal stakeholders. Empiric work of the department is mainly based on methods of qualitative social research.  Within research, special emphasis is put on a spatial scientific interdisciplinary perspective and the interfaces between planning science, engineering sciences (architecture, urban design, infrastructure and landscape planning) and environmental sciences (ecology, physical geography) on the one hand and social as well as  economic sciences (regional economy, political sciences, sociology, human geography, constitutional law, organization and management theory) on the other.

Theoretical approaches regarding the integration of engineering and social-scientific perspectives are especially seen in control- and action-theoretic paradigms. The terms “control” and “action” provide a link between physical-material facts, individual perceptions and the social world. Thus, a chance opens up to connect material action consequences and constructivist interpretations of the world in the context of a coherent model. Unlike the 1970s’ classical approaches of social-scientific control theories with a strong actor-orientation, more recent approaches take on a more institutionalized perspective. They ask for intermediate regulatory structures, thus, the institutional frame which guides the actions of stakeholders in  politics, economy and civil society. Societal actors constitute the regulatory structures and are at the same time directed by them.

The department’s research focuses on application-oriented work in three thematic fields:

• theories, methods and procedures of spatial planning

• restructuring strategies of cities and regions undergoing demographic change

• governance and development of polycentric metropolitan areas

With this orientation the department adapts to the research profile of the School of Spatial Planning. Thus, a close interdisciplinary cooperation with other disciplines at TU Dortmund is facilitated and the interconnection of planning-scientific research regarding ecological, engineering, economic and political subjects is promoted.


Ongoing projects of the Department of Spatial Planning and Planning Theory

Completed projects of the Department of Spatial Planning and Planning Theory

Metropolitan Research