Citizens discuss the planning of Norderstedt’s new housing project “Grüne Heyde” during a workshop.
Citizens discuss the planning of Norderstedt’s new housing project “Grüne Heyde” during a workshop. Herbert Brüning/Stadt Norderstedt

Headline: Sustainable Housing (NachWo) - Sustainability as a Guiding Concept for Urban Development Projects


The city of Norderstedt is one of eight German cities to make it into the third round of the "Zukunftsstadt" competition organised by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). The purpose of this programme is to encourage municipalities to get involved in research on sustainable transformation with the support of research institutes. In the current third phase, the focus is on implementing and scientifically assessing concrete measures in urban living laboratories.

A three-year collaboration on Sustainable Housing (NachWO) between Norderstedt and the IASS started in August 2019. The aim here is to generate practical knowledge for new sustainable housing projects.

What's the attraction of micro-apartments?

A sub-project on acceptance levels for micro-apartments explores what target groups might consider micro-apartments in apartment blocks an attractive form of affordable housing - and under what circumstances. It encompasses data collection on existing projects, surveys, and an architectural design competition. The sub-project is led by the "Sustainable Norderstedt" coordination office and supported through participatory observation by the IASS.

Innovative and sustainable construction

The IASS is leading the second sub-project on "Sustainability as a Touchstone for Urban Planning". Norderstedt's planned new residential district "Grüne Heyde" is to become a model project for sustainable urban development with certification from the German Sustainable Building Council (DGNB).

The IASS takes account of the needs, visions and communication opportunities with regard to sustainable housing that emerge in the overall project and compares them with innovative planning processes in two other municipalities. In the process, it studies institutional constraits as well as the implicit values and motives of different actors. The aim is to lay the foundation for effective sustainability and transformation management by fostering reflexivity among municipal stakeholders.

Focus on communication between urban planners and citizens

Methodologically speaking, the research team draws on practice theory, which distinguishes between different influencing factors, for example between laws and established procedures on the one hand, and interpretations of situations by interest groups on the other. It focuses in particular on stakeholder perceptions, especially with regard to sustainable development as a concept and guiding principle. The aim of this research is

  1. to investigate how different values and narratives in sustainability discourse influence communications among the actors responsible for urban planning and construction projects;

  2. to contribute to a better understanding of how and why local authorities become more open to citizens and other societal actors in urban planning questions, and

  3. to clarify how communications among different actors and the relationship between urban planners and citizens is reflected in the quality of planning processes and their results and how this effect can be enhanced.

The insights of this investigation will feed into neighbourhood and housing development projects in Norderstedt and two other municipalities. Norderstedt's ambitious "Grüne Heyde" housing project can be a model for similar projects across Germany and attract the attention of the wider public and experts alike. In addition to a Final Report with a shorter version aimed at funding bodies and interest groups in the municipalities under investigation, journal articles and presentations are planned.