In January 2013, the four-year research project “URBAN VOIDS, Opportunities for Sustainable Urban Development” was launched. It was a cooperation project between the KIT (Karlsruhe Institute of Technology), the Seoul National University (SNU) and the two planning offices ISA (Internationales Stadtbauatelier, Stuttgart/Peking/Seoul) and DANU (Seoul).

The project was funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research and the Korean Ministry of Education, Science and Technology.

URBAN VOIDS are all places in a city that are not conclusively defined in terms of their function and design: Reserve areas, brownfields, spacing areas, vacant buildings, polluted or underused properties – everywhere there are these areas that may be suitable for filling with new programs or buildings.

Voids are highly suitable for testing new techniques or strategies, as they offer niches for creative developments and flexible interventions, potential areas beyond economic constraints, a piece of freedom in the otherwise so strictly by rules and laws determined entity of the city. In short, they are an important component of the city’s innovative capital.

VOIDS are to be found primarily in neighbourhoods undergoing radical change. The main focus will therefore be on such neighbourhoods. The aim is to investigate the extent to which measures on these VOIDS can succeed in upgrading or perhaps even recoding neighbourhoods. Various measures are conceivable, from a simple appropriation of the areas by the residents (e.g. urban gardening) to post-compaction, which can give the neighbourhood a new face. At best, a new form of urban renewal can be tested. In Karlsruhe, the research project offers an opportunity to tie in with questions of spatial concepts.

Various specialist institutes at KIT and SNU were involved in this process. They were looking for spaces to put their innovations into practice in pilot projects. These pilot projects do not only have a radiant power for the respective neighbourhood. The cities of Karlsruhe and Seoul can thus also distinguish themselves as mediators between science and implementation, i.e. the structural implementation of scientific innovations in the city. The project as a whole also supports the innovative strength of small and medium-sized enterprises and contributes to the marketing of the two research institutions.

Contact Person: Philipp Dechow


Hochschule Karlsruhe – Technik und Wirtschaft | Karlsruhe University of Applied Sciences                 Universität Sungkyunkwan                 Karlsruher Institut für Technologie                 Land and Housing Institute (LH-I)                 Hochschule für Technik Stuttgart