1st Edition

Shrinking Cities in Reunified East Germany

By Agim Kërçuku Copyright 2023
    216 Pages 37 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    216 Pages 37 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    The book explores the relationship between the shrinking process and architecture and urban design practices. Starting from a journey in former East Germany, six different scenes are explored in which plans, projects, and policies have dealt with shrinkage since the 1990s. The book is a sequence of scenes that reveals the main characteristics, dynamics, narratives, reasons and ambiguities of the shrinking cities’ transformations in the face of a long transition. The first scene concerns the demolition and transformation of social mass housing in Leinefelde-Worbis. The second scene deals with the temporary appropriation of abandoned buildings in Halle-Neustadt. The third scene, observed in Leipzig, shows the results of green space projects in urban voids. The scene of the fourth situation observes the extraordinary efforts to renaturise a mining territory in the Lausitz region. The fifth scene takes us to Hoyerswerda, where emigration and ageing process required a reduction and demolition in housing stock and social infrastructures. The border city of Görlitz, the sixth and last scene, deals with the repopulation policies that aim to attract retirees from the West.

    List of figures



    Travel journals

    PART I

    Old problems fill new spaces

    1.1 Transformation of social mass housing

    Leinefelde Südstadt, Leinefelde-Worbis

    1.2 Degrees of transformation

    Conversation with Stefan Forster (Stefan Forster Architekten)


    The luxury of appropriation practices

    2.1 Temporary use of abandoned spaces

    Hotel Neustadt, Halle (Saale)

    2.2 Space for improvisation

    Conversation with Benjamin Foerster-Baldenius (raumlabor)


    Domestication and aporias of renaturization

    3.1 The projects of the green space in the urban voids

    Lene-Voigt-Park, Urban Walder, Bürgerbahnhof Plagwitz and Gestattungsvereinbarung, Leipzig

    3.2 Perforated territories

    Conversation with Engelbert Lütke Daldrup (Flughafen Berlin Brandenburg GmbH))


    The invention of quiet landscape

    4.1 Transformation of productive and mining territories

    Lausitzer Seenland

    4.2 A landscape between mining past and tourism future

    Conversation with Karsten Feucht (Studierhaus - IBA Fürst-Pückler-Land)

    PART V


    5.1 Demolition of residential stock and social infrastructure

    Hoyerswerda Neustadt, Hoyerswerda

    5.2 Dezentrale Konzentration

    Conversation with Dorit Baumeister (Citymanagerin HY)


    Controlled migration from the West

    6.1 Retirees and repopulation policies

    Probewohnen, Görlitz

    6.2 Qualified migration

    Conversation with Robert Knippschild (Interdisziplinären Zentrums für transformativen Stadtumbau IZS) 




    Agim Kërçuku is an architect and urbanist, has a PhD in Urbanism at the Universita IUAV di Venezia. Since December 2018, he has been a research fellow at the DAStU Excellence Department of the Politecnico di Milano. Research activity focuses on the dimension of fragility in the regions marked by dynamics of shrinking and marginalisation and on the spatial implications of the phenomenon of population ageing. He edited the publication of Territory in crisis. Architecture and Urbanism Facing Changes in Europe (Jovis, 2015, with other authors), Tensioni Urbane, Ricerche sulla citta che cambia (LetteraVentidue, 2017, with other authors), Spatial Tensions in Urban Design (Springer, 2021, with other authors), and contributed to national and international publications.