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Department of Spatial Planning

The list below introduces all currently ongoing research projects at the Spatial Modelling Lab. This includes doctoral dissertations, third-party funded projects, and self-financed research.

A regressogram describing the variance in the LOSH measure of spatial heterogeneity © René Westerholt

Much of the research in spatial analysis focuses on covariance structures in space and time. We are interested in the investigation of spatial structures in the variance. Although the latter is related to covariance, it stronger reflects exogenous influences rather than cluster or repulsion effects. Our focus on variance is motivated by the study of highly heterogeneous data sets as extracted from social media, blogs, or other types of Big Data sources. Learn more

Figure ground plan of a neighbourhood in Minsk, Belarus © Lizaveta Chepikava

How do we see and 'read' intricate patterns of buildings, streets and open spaces that form our cities? What tools do we have for that, and do they reflect the properties of urban form equally well for all different types of urban morphologies that we encounter in varied contexts? Focussing on housing estates, these are the main considerations that motivate this research project, in which we explore the potential offered by place-based approaches in GIS in the conceptualisation of urban form. Learn more

Trajectories of pedestrian mobility in Heidelberg, Germany © Westerholt, Lorei, Höfle

Urban mobility is one of the key fabrics of our cities and a crucial factor for a high quality of life. However, mobility in many cities continues to be confronted with major challenges. This has led to calls for sustainable urban mobility to meet the objectives of improving the quality of life in cities or urban communities. This research project focusses on so-called new or smart mobility services. The project is aims at identifying suitable methods for extracting mobility patterns of new mobility services, linking these to sustainability indicators, modelling urban mobility in a holistic sense, and understanding how spatial planners integrate new mobility services in their policy-making. Learn more

Cartograms representing how people linguistically refer to different parts of the city of Dresden © Westerholt, Zipf, Gröbe, Burghardt

Place is one of the imminent challenges in geographical information science. In distinction to space, the concept of place describes the way people think about the world and how they conceptualise their everyday geographies. However, people do this in a variety of often subjective and informal ways. For this reason, the concept of place in a human-geographical sense does not lend itself well to formalisation and quanitative treatment. We participate in the place discourse by working on basic aspects of place-related information, that is, on understanding how people reflect their meaningful places in information structures. We also investigate whether and how places can be studied statistically. Learn more

Abandoned steel mill in Dortmund © Víctor Cobs Muñoz

Sacrifice zones are environmentally alienated territories facing environmental violence, degradation, and destruction. These zones are thus closely tied to various forms of environmental injustice at different spatial scales. This project aims to understand the ways in which people living in sacrifice zones live and perceive their lives, and how they conceptualise their feelings of being affected by environmental injustice. The methodology applied is thereby place-based GIS, to which we aim to contribute both methodologically and in terms of applied research. Learn more

Verticality experienced in Hong Kong © David Mark

Increasingly globalised and globally connected lifestyles pose a variety of challenges to urban life. Only with an intercultural understanding of how people perceive and experience space and place can some of these challenges be understood and overcome. A new cooperation with the Faculty of Architecture, Uni­ver­sity of Hong Kong, addresses this aspect by means of case studies in both Dortmund and Hong Kong. Learn more