The Network

Worldwide, cities and entire regions are affected by structural change and they are challenged by comprehensive transformation processes. Phenomena such as globalization and digitalization accelerate this change and they bring several aspects of life into motion. Such developments might trigger a promising dynamic if used in a smart way and with a surplus for local people, their living environments and regional economies. There is, however, the urgency to raise and focus the level of knowledge of regional transformation processes in post-industrial areas within an international comparative action. Against this background, the international teaching and research network Transforming City Regions was initiated in June 2015 with its first international conference Polycentric City Regions in Transformation—The Ruhr Agglomeration in international Perspective, which was held at the UNESCO world heritage site Essen Zollverein and hosted by TU Dortmund University. The conference addressed processes and strategies for revitalization of polycentric urban regions and aimed at expanding the body of knowledge about regional transformation processes; explored opportunities and challenges that polycentric regions face for sustainable development; and strengthened the network to further pursue joint activities.

In February 2017, activities continued during the international symposium Water Resilient Urban and Regional Development—Transforming City Regions & The Urban Research Network in New York hosted by the University of Virginia. The symposium focussed on the role of water at the interface of urban and rural territories and on different methodological approaches for design and planning solutions. In November 2017, the network met in Amman, Jordan during the international conference Reclaiming Public Spaces within Metropolitan Areas hosted by the German Jordanian University. The conference focussed on urban transformation and the role of public space, nature-based planning approaches, and social and cultural dimensions of cities. In May 2018, the network met again at Essen Zollverein for the international symposium Urban Integration: From Walled City to Integrated City, which was hosted by TU Dortmund University. The symposium discussed interdisciplinary and multi-scale design solutions with a particular focus on polycentricity, multi-scale spatial models, resilience, as well as on diversity and inclusion. All the activities shared the goal to expand the network and to include partners from science and in practice in order to connect their expertise in relevant research projects and prepare them for future collaborations.