Paula Erckmann // From a Centre of Consumption to a City Centre for All



In many places, researchers, planners and local political and administrative actors recognise the need for a reorientation of the city centre. The current debate is triggered by the decline of small-scale and owner-managed retail from German city centres. In view of the Corona pandemic and the resulting measures, the topic is currently experiencing additional relevance and presence. Retail as a leading function is increasingly being questioned; instead, the image of a multifunctional city centre is coming into focus. Dealing with vacancies and revitalisation through uses beyond retail are central issues. Against this backdrop, this thesis deals with the reactivation of vacant retail spaces in inner city locations as a cooperative process between the public sector and community-oriented initiatives. Based on a case study of the Meffis in Aachen, the aim is to identify the basic prerequisites and factors that contribute to the success of such a process, as well as the roles and tasks that various actors assume. In addition, the study focuses on the possibilities and needs of the public sector for steering the process. The empirical study is based on a qualitative method mix of document analysis, written surveys and expert interviews. The results suggest that such processes offer enormous potential for further development, both for the initiatives themselves as well as for properties unsuitable for the market and the immediate inner-city environment. For this to happen, however, basic and locally anchored framework conditions must be in place, both on the part of the public authorities and on the part of the civil society initiatives. The city administration and local politics can start at different points and create important basic conditions, promote discursive negotiation processes and support the projects of the initiatives.


Examiner: Prof. Dr.-Ing. Agnes Förster
Co-Examiner: Jun.-Prof. Dr.-Ing. Jan Polívka
Supervisor: Robin Chang

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