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Urban Production

Living and working in the local district

Built-up urban areas are especially vulnerable to climate change. The density of building development and population presents particular challenges for these districts. The issue of sustainable urban development is becoming all the more important in terms of shaping a climate-friendly future. In order to support this, through their research project entitled “Urban production – back to the city”, the Institute for Work and Technology (IAT) and its various partners are investigating possible ways of bringing manufacturing industries back into cities. Alongside the positive impact for climate, this project also involves economic and social opportunities, and the aim is to exploit these using the results of the research.

New hybrid forms of living and working to promote sustainable urban development – this is the objective behind the Urban Production project’s research into whether it is possible to move certain manufacturing industries back into city districts and how this can be achieved. In this context, the researchers are examining the changes that need to be made to basic conditions such as planning legislation and the associated regulations for noise levels and the control of emissions, as well as looking at financing and operating models and social conditions. In this way, specific facilitation measures can be identified and tested, and a new urban planning model can be developed.

Engine for progress:

  • Promotes sustainable production
  • Options for action aimed at climate-friendly and economic urban/district development
  • Revitalisation of local districts
  • Research in real-world laboratories

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Photo: Luisa Gehnen, Die Urbanisten e.V

On the day the Luther Church was opened for five months of interim use, after five years of standing vacant, there was a great deal of public interest in the various hands-on activities offered on the premises.



Low in emissions and sustainable

The context of the research project is the prevailing division of cities into various zones such as residential, shopping, work and leisure areas. There were good reasons for moving manufacturing industries in particular away from city centres: noise, smells, dirt and pollutants. In exchange, it was necessary to accept various structural problems such as increased land use or transport and commuting traffic causing CO2 emissions. In contrast, new forms of production such as those based on 3D printing, for example, do not disturb anyone and can be brought back into cities without causing problems. The climate protection gains which would result from this move are substantial: available space can be used, transport routes are shortened, and resources can be used in a sustainable way by different businesses working together collaboratively, for example using cascading systems or by upcycling.

New opportunities for districts

In the case of disadvantaged neighbourhoods in particular, urban production offers economic and social opportunities as well as benefits related to the climate. The relocation of businesses is linked to a revival of the district: vacant properties can be avoided; local supply and social cohesion in the neighbourhood, as well as the overall quality of life, can all be improved. In order to develop measures and recommendations for action which align with the reality of citizens’ lives and which will therefore be met with openness and acceptance, the researchers are working on practical examples with residents of the Langendreer and Wattenscheid districts of Bochum. This involved creating spaces known as real-world laboratories to develop a sense of community in the neighbourhood, to hold presentation events and to sound out opinions on the possibility of establishing manufacturing enterprises in the area. It is hoped that the results will further encourage sustainable urban development and give municipalities specific options for urban planning.


Photo: IAT

“Through our actions, we hope to once again increase public appreciation of sustainable products and sustainable manufacturing in the city. The LutherLAB is a good example of this, since a disused space is thus being revitalised in a collaborative way and prototypes or items for local consumption can be produced.”

Kerstin Meyer, Scientific Assistant on the UrbaneProduktion.ruhr research project at the Institute for Work and Technology