Friday, 31 July 2015


The second OIKONET international workshop will explore the complementarity of growing and shrinking, two urban development patterns exemplified by the cities of Berlin and Cottbus, respectively.   All over Europe, demographic change has become an undeniable factor for the development perspectives of municipalities. Whereas large metropolises tend to attract new inhabitants, many cities have to realize that growth is something they can no longer rely on. Both growing and shrinking communities are emerging simultaneously confronting cities with unprecedented urban and architectural challenges. While at first sight growth and shrinkage seem to be contrary trends, they have to be considered as two sides of the same coin. The ‘growth paradigm’ must be paralleled by a ‘decline paradigm’ in order to allow us to conceptualize both phenomena and to explore and envision possible futures for cities. Growth usually suggests development and wealth, but this trend presents also a number of urban challenges: How can a city deal with growth in order to maintain adequate living standards and infrastructural supply for its inhabitants? Shrinkage often stands for decline and decay, but it could also be seen as an opportunity for urban renewal. What are then the opportunities of shrinkage and how can a place be downsized without being destroyed?   The workshop will focus on the cities of Berlin, the German capital, attractive to global investors and with a growing number of inhabitants, but also affected by housing shortage; and Cottbus, a former industrial city in Eastern Germany, facing a decline of population and economic stagnation. As part of the Brandenburg region, the two cities share a rich history. Despite their geographical proximity, their development and socio-demographic forecasts are far from being similar.   Using these two cities as case study, the workshop aims to explore urban and architectural scenarios coping with increasing and decreasing urban density. The workshop program includes lectures, design studio work and site visits to the areas of study.  Preparatory learning activities were carried out by participants prior to the meeting in Cottbus.   Around fifty students and twenty-five faculty members from the fifteen schools of architecture and urban planning members of OIKONET participated.

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