“Hands-on building sites” as an opportunity for residents’ participation in the design and development of public spaces

Project management

  • Ulrike Krämer, Sociologist (M.A., Dipl. Soz.-Päd.)
  • Melanie Mengel (Dipl.Päd (Univ.), Dipl. Soz.-Päd.)

Project staff

  • Johannes Karg, student assistant

Feasibility study to prepare insight into the viability and modalities of a model testing of “Hands-on building sites”

Grant for full-time female faculty of Nuremberg Tech to initiate and carry out research projects



Social change (demographic, social, technological, economic) is particularly noticeable in cities and entails many and complex challenges. Questions of integration and immigration; growing social, health, and social-spatial inequality; providing living space as well as green and open areas require urban spatial solutions applied in the local quarters. Redensification and repurposing intensify the pressure on public spaces, opportunities for social encounters are reduced and conflicts about use of spaces are exacerbated. The results can range from emigration to the development of social hotspots. Local councils are called on to shape not only urban growth, but also the cohabitation of diverse populations.

Residents’ participation remains the first choice for issues of space organization as well as in developing a social community and neighbourly cooperation. If city development measures are transparent and citizens are involved in decision-making processes, this can increase the acceptance of change and identification with the quarter, which in turn fosters taking on responsibility. Public participation in city development processes is widely established, however, in practice it has been seen that not all populations are equally engaged. And most participation efforts end with the planning phase. Opportunities to appropriate spaces, which may have positive effects on residents’ experience of self-efficacy by making their own active contribution to the improvement of the living environment visible and tangible, remain unused. The same applies to the experience of collective-efficacy and the strengthening of social resources. The project will connect these aspects with so-called “hands-on building sites” in the framework of a feasibility study.