Conference 2022 – Urban Transformations: Public Spaces

The "Call for Papers, Projects and Interventions" is aimed at researchers, experts and students from various disciplines, as well as actors and initiatives from applied fields who wish to contribute their expertise on public spaces in cities and regions to the analysis and sustainable development of public spaces.
Visual INUAS Konferenz 2022

Call for Papers, Projects and Interventions

Extended submission deadline for the INUAS 2022 Conference – February 20th 2022

Urban Transformations: Public Spaces

Conference Series Urban Transformations: Housing | Resources | Public Spaces
7.9.2022 – 9.9.2022, ZHAW Zurich University of Applied Sciences, Lagerplatzareal Winterthur, Switzerland

The complete conference programme will be published in May/June 2022. Registration will also be open from this date onwards.

The INUAS conference series “Urban Transformations: Housing | Resources | Public Spaces” provides a platform for addressing current issues and perspectives for the development of cities and regions.

To kick things off, the conference in Vienna in November 2019 focused on the topic of “Housing”. “Resources” formed the theme of the virtual conference in Munich in 2021.

The third international conference of this INUAS conference series is now dedicated to the topic of public spaces as experimental areas of innovative, sustainable urban development in Winterthur-Zurich in September 2022. In the five sections PARTICIPATION / ECOLOGY / MOBILITY AND ENERGY / DESIGN AND DEVELOPMENT as well as METHODOLOGY, questions related to the ecological, political, planning, social and technological challenges and opportunities in public spaces will be addressed.


Thematic focus of conference contributions

Public spaces shape our towns and cityscapes. At the same time, they are a reflection of our social conditions. Their structure, design and appropriateness are decisive for the quality of life in cities and regions. Public spaces take on many different tasks: They serve as places to socialize and interact, offer a space for retreat and activities, ensure access and supply, provide space for events, enable various types of mobility and have an important ecological significance as green spaces.

Challenges such as development within cities, social inequalities, climate change, privatisation and surveillance, digitalisation and the restructuring of infrastructure systems in the energy and mobility sectors require a rethinking of previous urban development approaches. How can these different challenges and partly contradictory demands for use be brought into relation with each other? It is about structural-spatial transformations, dealing with social inequalities, resource scarcities, consequences of technological progress and so forth that must be thought about and shaped collectively.

Different professions in fields like urban planning, architecture, youth work, transport planning, ecology deal with these challenges and the development, planning and design of public spaces. In addition to government agencies, civil society institutions and the general public have extensive knowledge about the possible uses of public spaces. According to this diversity of perspectives, actors and demands, cooperation and innovative approaches are needed to maintain and develop a liveable city for all.

Researchers, experts and students from different disciplines as well as actors and initiatives in applied fields of work are invited to submit scientific contributions or projects from urban practice on the following main topics as well as on “new”/current methods of developing or researching public spaces, which are described in more detail in the following chapters. Since public spaces require inter- and transdisciplinary collaborations, contributions and projects that address cross-thematic approaches and projects are particularly sought after.

  • Participation
  • Ecology
  • Mobility and Energy
  • Design and development
  • Methodology

Public spaces also shape the image of the city and they influence social participation in different ways. Public spaces are places of encounter, debate and learning, or at least they should be. Under the conditions of increasing social diversity, possibilities and boundaries are shifted and become increasingly unclear. The drastic changes in demands on public spaces due to the lockdown further exacerbate questions of social participation. Various, partly overlapping, fields of tension and questions for research and practice are recognisable. Contributions to this section can, for example, shed light on the following topics/questions:

  • On the one hand, public spaces should provide resources for shaping everyday life in cities; on the other hand, as experimental areas, they should allow also for the special, the non-ordinary. They should enable or even encourage appropriation, but also be available for use by “everyone”. How can these requirements be met in the long term?
  • Uses and potentially conflicting interests provoke conflicts of appropriation and use. The lines of conflict are manifold and site-specific. How can conflicts of use be dealt with constructively? Who has to get out of the way? Where to?
  • Commodification tends to limit the possible uses of public spaces, but it is also a valuable component of urban life. What are the possibilities or problems of alternative economic forms or interim uses?
  • Digital spaces are an integral part of urban life. How can the interplay and competition between physical and digital/virtual spaces be shaped
  • What are the requirements for design processes for public spaces? Who needs to be involved in these processes? Which methods have proven successful?

Cities are particularly affected by the increasing summer heat as a result of climate change due to the “heat island effect,” but also in terms of biodiversity. The asphalted inner cities heat up more than the green surrounding countryside. Heat islands are found especially in the densely built-up areas in the city centre. Natural habitats with plants and open water areas have a cooling effect on the microclimate of areas as well as the indoor climate in buildings. But how long can the existing green structures and greenery in public spaces continue to exist in urban areas with the rising temperatures? Should urban development not be rethought in terms of ecology and climate – towards a “more-than-human perspective”? The following topics emerge for the conference:

  • For whom is the city a suitable habitat? From the anthropocentric view to an ecocentric approach; “co-habitation” of humans, animals and plants; social transformation with regard to ecology and also the view of “wilderness aesthetics” in the city.
  • Creating habitats for plants and animals: Design new green spaces, transform existing green areas in public spaces with green facades, roofs and infrastructures; new planning approaches and technologies such as “ecosystem-aided design.”
  • New climatic conditions mean new habitats: knowledge of emerging successions in urban spaces; human management of these processes; promotion of urban biodiversity.
  • Influencing temperature: promoting plants, especially urban trees; prerequisites for new plantings; water management; “sponge city”.
  • Thinking and enabling cycles: Managing water; opportunities for people to be active in ecology or also for recreation, including “urban gardening” or composting kitchen or garden waste; opportunities for social transformation to promote ecology; more public green spaces also mean more opportunities for recreational activities in parks or also slow traffic.

Challenges such as the transformation of cities through increasing urbanisation, climate change, digitalisation, and the restructuring of infrastructure systems in the energy and mobility sectors require a rethinking of previous urban development approaches. Public spaces fulfil various functions as supply, transport, access, and recreation spaces. They contain various infrastructures for energy production and distribution as well as transport and, together with green spaces, contribute to a better microclimate. They are also at the crossroads between energy, mobility, and technological and social innovations. How can mobility be made more sustainable so that it contributes to liveable cities and regions? How can the energy transition be advanced in public spaces so that social issues are taken into account at the same time? How can the data that is increasingly collected in public spaces be brought into harmony with the data and privacy protection of residents, commuters, and guests? Possible contributions in this section deal with the following topics:

  • Smart Sustainable Cities: Do technological innovations create evidence-based added value for sustainable urban development? Infrastructure systems for the energy and mobility turnaround; smart networking through the Internet of Things and communication tools; traffic monitoring and environmental monitoring through sensors and other measuring devices; tools for collecting and processing digital data; ensuring data protection, digital information offerings and transparency; technological innovations.
  • Mobility: How can we bring about the mobility turnaround in public spaces? Sustainable low-speed transport with pedestrians, bicycle lanes and micromobility; car-free city centres; intermodal and combined mobility (environmental tickets); autonomously driving buses (route on demand); sharing vehicles instead of owning them, vehicles away from places; sustainable freight transport for the last mile; climate/spatial impacts of transport.
  • Intelligent transport systems: can destinations (places of work, meetings) also move? Traffic reduction through city of short distances, home office and online meetings, tax policy and incentives; intelligent parking space management and parking systems; intelligent traffic control
  • Sector coupling: What synergies arise at the interface of energy and mobility? Coupling of energy and mobility systems; electric mobility with corresponding (semi-)public charging infrastructure; vehicle to grid; retrofitting charging infrastructure in residential complexes; solar carports; synthetic fuels (or is electric the only way?)
  • Energy grids and distribution: what contributes to the energy transition in public spaces? Energy generation; photovoltaics and other renewables; building integrated photovoltaics; energy grids and decentralised energy storage.

The design and development of public spaces are related to social, economic and ecological processes. With interesting tensions between inner city development, climate change and social changes, the demands on public spaces are increasing. In design processes, architects, urban planners, landscapers, and traffic planners bring the different demands in physical space into contact in interdisciplinary teams. The design method offers the possibility of a synthesis of the different themes and allows for different scales to be harmonised. In this section, the focus of the discussion is on concrete examples and projects, the related planning processes, and innovative approaches to solutions. Contributions to this section can, for example, shed light on the following topics/questions:

  • How can streets and squares be designed not only for motorised individual traffic, but also as meeting spaces and for an improved urban climate?
  • How can the different requirements of parks be reconciled between ecology, climate, mobility and recreation?
  • How can public spaces and niches be developed in the agglomeration/sub-urban spaces?
  • How can open space designs optimize space use between the public and private uses, residential quarters, areas in a qualitative manner supporting integrated development?
  • How can a better interplay between ground floor uses, front areas and public spaces be established? How can threshold spaces and spatial boundaries between public and private space be better designed?
  • How can a balance be struck in the design between use, appropriateness and openness to future needs? To what extent do overlapping uses offer new design opportunities?
  • How can legal regulations regarding public space be explored in the interplay between social and design challenges?

Design processes of public spaces can be described as “wicked problems”, i.e. problems whose causes can hardly be analysed conclusively and whose solution cannot be planned in a linear manner, but require a recursive approach and the integration of diverse perspectives. Negotiation processes and interdisciplinary discourses are necessary between research and practice. Cooperation in various forms seem to be in demand: in practice, for instance between administrative departments and hierarchical levels, between the public sector and business, with citizens or interdisciplinary in science or in the sense of transdisciplinary and transformative research between practice and science. Thus, methodological questions arise for the work in practice, for science, but above all for the cooperation and integration of science and practice. Possible contributions in this section deal with the topics:

  • Which formats, methods, and settings have proven successful in work on the ground and for research? What challenges arise in joint research processes? How are the challenges of transdisciplinary and participatory research overcome?
  • How are transferable findings from living labs, “real labs”, testbeds, co-creation etc. obtained?
  • Who are the important stakeholders on the ground? How can they be won over for cooperation? How is it possible to leave the middle-class perspective on participation?
  • Who are the key practice partners for research? How can they be won over for joint work?
  • How do the natural and social sciences, qualitative and quantitative methods interact? Where is peer-to-peer access necessary?
  • How can research results be communicated into practice? How can experiences from best practice or pilot projects be integrated into practice and science?
  • How can joint learnings be made valuable for all participants?
  • What role can and should science play in transformation processes and participatory research?

Target group and procedure

The Call for Papers, Projects and Interventions is addressed to researchers, experts and students from different disciplines as well as to actors and initiatives in applied fields of work.

During the conference, selected submitters will present their contributions in conference panels, workshops, poster sessions or urban excursions / interventions.

Keynote speakers and experts from the field will round off the conference programme.

Language and conference fee

Presentations and discussion contributions at the conference can be given in German or English. The conference languages in the plenary session are German and English.

The conference fee is CHF 300.
The conference fee will be significantly reduced for speakers presenting their paper at the conference: A reduced conference fee of CHF 200 (CHF 50 for students) is payable as a contribution to the organisation and running of the conference, including venue, catering and online communication.

Travel and accommodation costs for speakers will not be covered.

Submission of conference papers

Abstracts including contact details should be submitted on the conference platform: To the submission of contributions

Abstracts should be between 400 and 600 words (max. two DIN A4 pages) and should be assigned to one of the five thematic or methodological tracks. The contributions can be submitted in German or English. For this purpose, it is mandatory to use the formatting of the abstract template.

The submission deadline has been extended to February 20th, 2022.

Abstracts for scientific contributions should briefly outline the research question and methodological approach as well as the main results and conclusions.

Abstracts for project contributions should briefly outline the concept, innovative aspects, methods of implementation, sustainable impact of the project as well as findings or challenges.

Projects and initiatives also have the opportunity to present innovative projects in the form of excursions/interventions in Winterthur-Zurich. Abstracts for excursions/interventions should briefly outline the concept, innovative aspects, methods of implementation, sustainable impact of the project as well as findings or challenges.

Martin Aichholzer, Department of Building and Design, FH Campus Wien
Sandra Bartoli, Faculty of Architecture, Munich University of Applied Sciences
Andrea Benze, Faculty of Architecture, Munich University of Applied Sciences
Oliver Bohlen, Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Information Technology, Munich University of Applied Sciences
Vicente Carabias-Hütter, School of Engineering, Institute for Sustainable Development, ZHAW Zurich University of Applied Sciences
Marc Diebäcker, Department of Social Affairs, FH Campus Vienna
Peter Dürr, Faculty of Applied Social Sciences, Munich University of Applied Sciences
Peter Jenni, Department of Architecture, Design and Civil Engineering, Institute Urban Landscape, ZHAW Zurich University of Applied Sciences
Anke Kaschlik, Department of Social Work, Institute for Diversity and Social Participation, ZHAW Zurich University of Applied Sciences
Moritz Vögeli, Department of Life Sciences and Facility Management, ZHAW Zurich University of Applied Sciences
Markus Wellenzohn, Department of Technology, FH Campus Wien

Evaluation of conference papers

All submitted papers will be peer reviewed by the scientific committee and associated experts. Papers accepted by the interdisciplinary jury will be published in the conference Book of Abstracts. For selected papers presented at the conference and particularly worthy of publication, the scientific committee will advocate for further publication opportunities relevant to the field.

Submitters will be informed of the outcome of the selection process in April 2022. A revision of the submission before inclusion in the Book of Abstracts may be suggested.

The complete conference programme will be published at in May/June 2022. Registration will also be open from this date onwards.


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