Travelling concepts and material translations in urban housing policy: Urban growth and densification in Freiburg, Germany, beyond the sustainability mantra

Authors: Carola Fricke*, Human Geography, University of Freiburg
Topics: Urban Geography, Urban and Regional Planning
Keywords: housing, densification, urban growth, materiality, planning
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/4/2019
Start / End Time: 9:55 AM / 11:35 AM
Room: Blue Room, Omni, East
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


In the past decade, several large cities in Germany experience an ‘urban renaissance’. Yet, local responses to urban growth and increasing demand for housing variegate importantly. Municipal and national housing policies, building regulations and zoning attempt at influencing housing developments with varying effects. The paper explores geographies of urban housing policies and their implications for the build environment in the city of Freiburg, Germany.
Conceptually, housing policy forms a particularly interesting intersection between urbanization’s socio-economic dimension – population and real estate market dynamics – and its spatial-material implications – expressed in residential buildings and housing infrastructures. Thereby, instruments in housing policy can be understood as translating immaterial flows of travelling concepts and ideas into material concreteness.
Freiburg is often cited as a forerunner in urban sustainability, an image promoted by marketing and iconic housing projects. However, recent housing policies attempt at fulfilling multiple aspirations beyond the sustainability mantra. In light of ongoing urban growth and demands for housing densification, this paper questions how planning principles, such as inclusive, compact urban development, translate into concrete projects and practices. Thereby, paper explores shifts in Freiburg’s housing policies. In the past decades, Freiburg’s land-use planning favored inner urban development. A recent municipal housing strategy introduced a mix of instruments attempting, inter alia, to facilitate housing projects in the inner and outer city.

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