Polish and German large housing estates yesterday, today and tomorrow

On the change of urban concepts and their acceptance, analyzed in Katowice and Leipzig

Cooperation Partner


Research project, financed by the German-Polish Science Foundation


02/2011 – 12/2012


Large housing estates of the post-war period, in Poland and Germany, are home to a significant portion of the cities’ inhabitants. Built in the socialist era (1960s-1980s), today they are developed neighbourhoods with inhabitants exhibiting high place-attachment. However, the population is increasingly ageing and - at least in Germany - there are also high population losses. In German urban design debates, these estates are often considered to be outdated; but at the same time, climate protection efforts like thermal insulation are oriented at these urban structures.

In the light of changing housing preferences and today’s goals and values of urban development, the cooperation between the UFZ and the Politechnikum Gliwice (project coordinator) aims to produce an objective analysis of the present state and future prospects of Polish and German housing estates. Drawing from the examples provided by the cities of Katowice and Leipzig, the future prospects of large housing estates built with prefabricated technology will be analysed and assessed. Furthermore, groups of inhabitants who exhibit a positive relationship to the estates in Poland and eastern Germany will be sort out and efforts will be made to identify reasons for this relationship. Moreover, the expectations that the inhabitants, owners and decision-makers have concerning the future development of the estates will also be examined. Building on these results, the future demand will be estimated and further discussed. This discussion will address how the housing stock can be ecologically, socially and architecturally qualified in order to encourage the development of sustainable neighbourhoods.

The research design comprises of a mixed methods approach which combines disciplines such as, architecture, urban design and social sciences, focusing on:

  • historical analyses on the genesis and original planning and further development of the estates with respect to the societal transformation and its impact on the housing stock and on housing preferences;
  • SWOT-analyses of recent housing conditions from the inhabitant’s perspective in order to identify potentials for further development; and
  • exemplary elaboration of necessary strategies for buildings and urban development, considering social and demographic trends.

The UFZ-team will specifically deal with the interface of demographic change and climate proof urban development. Chances and challenges for the improvement of energy consumption of the housing stock. The acceptance of such efforts from the point of view of inhabitants and restrictions arising from the specific framework conditions will be an issue to focus on here. The housing stock will be analysed in an integrative manner, looking at the interaction of social aspects, ecological aspects as well as political and economic framework conditions in order to understand the challenges for the future development of these estates.

The polish partners will conduct an architectural analysis of the estates in order to assess the urbanistic changes that have occurred. In combination with sociological surveys on the housing needs of inhabitants, scenarios for further development of the districts will be drafted. The work of students in the respective research fields of Katowice and Leipzig is an integrative part of the project. On-site workshops with students and experts are planned.

The project is financed by the German-Polish-Science Foundation and associated to the research topic “Impact of Urban Dynamics on Land Use Options” (Cluster 5 of the Program-Topic I).

Further UFZ projects dealing with large housing estates

Interval-study Leipzig-Grünau – empirical long-term study on housing satisfaction in a large housing estate
5/2009-4/2010, co-financed by the City of Leipzig, Department of Urban Renewal (ASW)

Shrink Smart – The Governance of Shrinkage within a European Context
5/2009-4/2012, financed by the EU – 7 RP