pnd – rethinking planning - Editorial

Published 26.04.2023


This edition of pnd – rethinking planning grapples with the social, economic, and physical relevance of industrial lands and their activities in cities. Following the tradition of other editions, this set of contributions draws on the Pt.Seminar event in October 2022, at which 40 students, scholars, entrepreneurs, and representatives of community and public organizations came together to exchange knowledge and ponder questions about industrial lands. This edition, like the event, is dedicated to the theme of Productive Processes through which productivity is reframed to highlight or critically reflect on ongoing initiatives and mutually encountered challenges for industrial lands shared across the globe. Authors here disentangle what this means for their cities and nations, while offering steps towards future and sustainable adaptation.

At the core and periphery of cities, industrial lands undergo change that deeply impact how we work and live. These changes seem ostensibly silent, but communities and their public administrations are increasingly pressured to protect space and proffer solutions for their productive lands. These spaces and solutions could be critical locations for capacity-building or pivoting production; they could also be amenity-poor sites requiring support for improved well-being. Despite the purposes they serve and potential they hold, urban and industrial lands are constantly influenced by trends and innovations in technology, economy, or society and increasingly coming under pressure from other land uses as valuable spatial resources. What this edition attempts to untangle are the struggles to find place-based process and policy responses, across nations and beyond borders to uphold the integrity of these lands. These struggles are pieced together with ten contributions that depict universal needs to shape or protect lands. Bundled into three sections that present analyses, theoretical frameworks, along with final insights from urban practice and design, the contributions present inclusive, climate-friendlier, and regenerative approaches that support common ideals and propose new steps towards the sustainable transitioning of urban and industrial lands. 

To sketch out broader contexts, the first three contributions depict in space and time how changes to urban and industrial lands are increasing in relevance. By considering policy evolution or visualizing socio-spatial data, perspectives at both national and municipal levels are provided for broader processes affecting cities in German and Canadian contexts. The section following these anchors how scholars, practitioners, and students relate to the titular theme in processes and space. Participation, greening, as well as densification and intensification processes are juxtaposed as practice-oriented experiences in this second cluster. Here, the authors share insights grounded in ongoing public administrative initiatives and pedagogy from Canada, South Korea, and Germany. Improved diversity and sustainability are, again, end goals for design and planning through land uses, activities, and design. Finally, the last section encourages shifts in mindsets towards bolder interaction at the district-level, broader management of obsolescence, and practice-theoretical interactions with our built environment. The emphatic critique is that we must rethink how we have been (re)developing urban and industrial lands until now if we intend to make transitions more sustainable.

In sum, this edition presents international perspectives from diverse disciplinary backgrounds. The contributions, altogether, present a snap-shot of united interest and concern for urban and industrial lands. We hope you find as much inspiration or pleasure in reading the content in this edition as we have had in curating and collating the contributions. 

The editors of this issue: 
Robin A. Chang, Agnes Förster, Stefan Gaertner, and Leonard Kohlhas 

And the editorial team:
Laura Brings, Agnes Förster, Katharina Frieling, Moritz Maikämper
Participation: Friederike Macher, Diana Polanski

About the author(s)

Robin A. Chang, Dr., is a PostDoc researcher and lecturer at the Chair of Planning Theory and Urban Development. Her process- and temporality-oriented work draw on her PhD research examining temporary uses in Europe. Prior to this, she practised community and land use planning in Canada.

Agnes Förster, Dr.-Ing. architect und urban planner, is head of the Chair of Planning Theory and Urban Development at RWTH Aachen University. She researches and designs processes from the urban quarter to the region and is co-initiator of the REVIERa Transformation Platform at RWTH Aachen University.

Stefan Gärtner, Dr. Spatial Planner, Managing Director of the Institute for Work and Technology in Gelsenkirchen and head of the "Spatial Capital" research department. Main research areas: regional development and structural policy, regional banking and urban production.

Leonard Kohlhas achieved his B.Sc. and M.Sc. in Spatial Planning at Technische Universität Dortmund. His work focuses on the discourse and policies that are shaping the development of industrial land and its socio-economic role for cities and people.