Participation through Cooperative Open Space Development -
Collaborating to Develop “Arrival Neighborhoods”

Lead partner:

Institute for Migration Research and Intercultural Studies ( IMIS ), University of Osnabrück (Jun.-Prof. Dr. Antonie Schmiz)

Project website:

Further project partners:

Financed by:

Federal Ministry of Education and Research


01/2018 - 12/2020

Research objectives

The accelerated social and ethnic heterogenisation of the German society has brought up specific challenges for a sustainable development of settlement structures and open spaces for the social and spatial integration of immigrants, especially recently arrived refugees. Up to present, there is a lack of knowledge on the conditions enabling integration and social cohesion as well as on factors which may decrease socio-ecological inequalities at the neighbourhood scale. Which actors and interests have to be involved, and how to cope with potential and appearing conflicts? Such knowledge is decisive and urgently needed by municipalities. An important application field is the upgrading and shaping of open spaces as places for encounter, leisure and recreation.
Set against this background, the project aims at setting up real-world labs for a cooperative development of open spaces in the cities of Hannover, Leipzig and Dortmund. Real-world labs are, on the one hand, places in which a cooperative design (garden, playground, etc.) will be implemented. They are, on the other hand, spaces of encounter, communication and negotiation for the municipal, civic society and housing market actors involved. In these labs, existing activities should be enhanced and new ideas being tested. The focus is on different groups of inhabitants including long-term and recently arrived residents and their specific wants and needs. The labs should build a ground for learning processes concerning how to cope with temporary, target-group oriented and cooperative urban planning.
During the process, an assessment of the potential of open spaces for social integration and relationships among the local population as well as the socio-ecological upgrading of neighbourhoods will take place. It is the aim of the project to investigate conditions under which the participation of different social and ethnic groups in the development and use of open spaces in arrival neighbourhoods may succeed. The influence of contextual factors at the neighbourhood and city level will be scientifically analysed. In doing so, both factors supporting and hindering a cooperative open space development will be identified. A transfer of results to mentored municipalities is envisaged.

For further information please visit www.kooplab.de

Case Studies

Leipzig has faced dynamic changes of shrinkage and regrowth within the last 25 years. The arrival neighbourhoods are developing since the 1990s only and are characterised by a juxtaposition of concentration of poverty, the arrival of new residents and incipient upgrading. Coping with this situation is a major challenge for the municipality and a central issue in the ongoing discussions related to the master plan (INSEK).

Hannover sells itself as „City of gardens“, based on a range of bottom-up urban gardening initiatives and a close cooperation between initiatives and the municipality. The real-world lab will build on this rich experience with gardening projects in migrant areas.

Dortmund is characterised by a concentration of poverty and structural change. The lab can back on a strong actor landscape in Dortmund’s diverse “Nordstadt” and fits into the strategic interests of the municipality.