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Capturing and understanding the compositional logic of housing estates through place-based GIS

Our understanding of urban form is conditioned by ways in which we see and conceptualise it through the use of scientific methods. The latter often dictate which features to grasp and which to omit, being it for the sake of feasibility of formalisation or for any other reasons. In addition, cities, being highly complex and dynamic entities, are in constant flux, which demands equally flexible and up-to-date methods. Approaching these matters from an urban morphology perspective naturally gives rise to considering urban form primarily through investigation of its physical, material, and geometrical properties. This way of looking at urban form is strongly reflected in the principal visualisation tools of urban morphology: figure-ground plan. This project tries to go beyond this perspective and to take the study of urban morphology one step further towards investigating how people actually live in and perceive different kinds of urban morphologies.

The urban fabric of the contemporary city becomes increasingly fragmented. Open spaces are thereby particularly affected, as their role is advancing from being a mere "leftover" towards the forefront for displayal of social, cultural, and other characteristics of the urban fabric. This way, interrelations between the typology of spaces and their corresponding urban morphologies become mediated and changed by vast amounts of voids. This renders inefficient our ways to conceptualise urban forms by means of interdependent street networks, plots, and buildings. Such relations were characteristic of traditional types of urban form, but they no longer hold explanatory power in conditions where the urban fabric becomes interrupted and interspersed with actively used open spaces blurring the boundaries between public and private space. The common figure-ground plan fails to do justice to housing estates characterised by this outlined blurring up: free-floating black footprints of detached buildings surrounded by whiteness do not help to reveal the spatial organisation, types of spaces, their functions and status within the public-private spectrum. The increasingly prominent role of undifferentiated space in such relations pushes us to seek proper conceptual frameworks allowing for realistic formalisation and representation, instrumental in investigating contemporary urban form. Place-based GIS might suggest a way to address this matter. This methodological approach attempts to capture spatial semantics and meaning with the goal of formalising it for analyses. Important topics found under the umbrella term place-based GIS include investigations of place names, spatial cognition, discourse and text-based analysis, among others. With respect to urban form, combining these approaches towards treating a place through the lenses of function, use, and intention seems particularly promising and instrumental. It is our goal in this project to reach a holistic understanding and redefinition of the housing estate typology using place-based GIS to analyse the composition of places formalised not only by their geometries but also by their non-physical and particularly human aspects.

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Location & approach

The campus of TU Dort­mund University is located close to interstate junction Dort­mund West, where the Sauerlandlinie A 45 (Frankfurt-Dort­mund) crosses the Ruhrschnellweg B 1 / A 40. The best interstate exit to take from A 45 is "Dort­mund-Eichlinghofen" (closer to Campus Süd), and from B 1 / A 40 "Dort­mund-Dorstfeld" (closer to Campus Nord). Signs for the uni­ver­si­ty are located at both exits. Also, there is a new exit before you pass over the B 1-bridge leading into Dort­mund.

To get from Campus Nord to Campus Süd by car, there is the connection via Vogelpothsweg/Baroper Straße. We recommend you leave your car on one of the parking lots at Campus Nord and use the H-Bahn (suspended monorail system), which conveniently connects the two campuses.

TU Dort­mund University has its own train station ("Dort­mund Uni­ver­si­tät"). From there, suburban trains (S-Bahn) leave for Dort­mund main station ("Dort­mund Hauptbahnhof") and Düsseldorf main station via the "Düsseldorf Airport Train Station" (take S-Bahn number 1, which leaves every 20 or 30 minutes). The uni­ver­si­ty is easily reached from Bochum, Essen, Mülheim an der Ruhr and Duisburg.

You can also take the bus or subway train from Dort­mund city to the uni­ver­si­ty: From Dort­mund main station, you can take any train bound for the Station "Stadtgarten", usually lines U41, U45, U 47 and U49. At "Stadtgarten" you switch trains and get on line U42 towards "Hombruch". Look out for the Station "An der Palmweide". From the bus stop just across the road, busses bound for TU Dort­mund University leave every ten minutes (445, 447 and 462). Another option is to take the subway routes U41, U45, U47 and U49 from Dort­mund main station to the stop "Dort­mund Kampstraße". From there, take U43 or U44 to the stop "Dort­mund Wittener Straße". Switch to bus line 447 and get off at "Dort­mund Uni­ver­si­tät S".

The AirportExpress is a fast and convenient means of transport from Dort­mund Airport (DTM) to Dort­mund Central Station, taking you there in little more than 20 minutes. From Dort­mund Central Station, you can continue to the uni­ver­si­ty campus by interurban railway (S-Bahn). A larger range of in­ter­na­tio­nal flight connections is offered at Düsseldorf Airport (DUS), which is about 60 kilometres away and can be directly reached by S-Bahn from the uni­ver­si­ty station.

The H-Bahn is one of the hallmarks of TU Dort­mund University. There are two stations on Campus Nord. One ("Dort­mund Uni­ver­si­tät S") is directly located at the suburban train stop, which connects the uni­ver­si­ty directly with the city of Dort­mund and the rest of the Ruhr Area. Also from this station, there are connections to the "Technologiepark" and (via Campus Süd) Eichlinghofen. The other station is located at the dining hall at Campus Nord and offers a direct connection to Campus Süd every five minutes.

The facilities of TU Dort­mund University are spread over two campuses, the larger Campus North and the smaller Campus South. Additionally, some areas of the uni­ver­si­ty are located in the adjacent "Technologiepark".

Site Map of TU Dort­mund University (Second Page in English)