Europan Germany

E9: Topic


Europan aims to promote young architects and urban planners in Europe, to make their ideas known and to develop them conceptually. Cities and developers proposing sites are supported in their search for innovative architectural and urban planning approaches to urban redevelopment. The Europan theme is an inspiration and bracket in the development of the projects and serves as a guide in the search for competition sites.


Europan 9's guiding theme, European Urbanity, particularly supports collaboration between the cities and developers of the participating countries. The European vision of the city is ultimately the creation of society: people in different situations and from different backgrounds should come together. Nevertheless, the increasingly pronounced individualization and the interest in independence cannot be ignored. Europan confronts precisely this contradiction: on the one hand, to seek the bustling city with social life and publicity, and at the same time to preserve the private, the home and the familiar circle of friends. Urbanity can be understood as a shared experience of the city and its functions, but equally as the design of urban spaces at the urban planning and architectural level to create places that enable people to come together: the public space. Urbanity also provokes reflection on the forms of public space, placed in its local and wider context.


Before formulating the common thematic criteria for the sites, it is first necessary to determine what constitutes urbanity and how public space can be thought of. The idea and concept itself are relatively new in practice; public space, in the modern understanding, has existed as a distinct concept only since the second half of the 20th century. Today, it is usually considered a space that has a number of specific characteristics: an unoccupied space that creates tension between the built environment; space of mediation as a driver of social life; the dynamic space that stands for the values, symbols and signs of urban life. In urban society, public space represents the ensemble of places of transition that, through their use, belong to all or are attributed to the public and are accessible to all without restriction.

Public space also forms the spatial structure that connects private areas, develops or codifies their relationships, is the place of commerce, the expression of community life and certain forms of freedom as well as conflict. As a structure, it determines urban development and adapts to the location (road network, infrastructure). The public space of the city is also the place of public presence: it is the expression of authorities, urban institutions and actions of symbolic or monumental importance.

Sometimes, or as a necessity in opposition to power, it is also a space of freedom, of demonstration, of appropriation, of identification.... Public space is shaped by the lifestyles and activities of the people who animate it. This imprint shows itself in different forms: Ambience, colors and street decorations, markets, urban and community facilities (terraces, stalls, games, etc.) maintain the social status and anonymity of the individual through the diversity of situations and opportunities of the city.

The public space is accessible at all times. There are neither opening nor closing hours: Streets and squares are available to all without distinction. How they are used is not always explicitly defined, as long as official rules are respected.

Public space is as much a place of understanding and peaceful encounters as it is a place of conflict and insecurity. Thus it submits to a certain rationality and organization, and at the same time it can awaken fantasy and dreams. Public space locates itself between the everyday, the celebratory, and play....

Attempting a definition raises the question of where public space begins, and where it ends. It starts with its demarcation from private space: Are spaces used by residents or characterized by their proximity to certain facilities public space, even though their use is reserved for a specific group? Can the new collective places determined by common interests - such as shopping centers, cultural and leisure facilities, train stations and airports - be qualified as public spaces? They have become significant elements in the project city, where, however, the commercial aspect determines the public space.

What place can public space have in the diffuse, increasingly interconnected urban spaces, at a time when the question of public space, under the aspects of sustainable urban development, is being reformulated. European public space is exposed to the tension between these two aspects of the city, the hybrid element located between the "abstract" and the "concrete". Can it still contribute to the creation of urban identity today?

With these questions in mind, Europan 9 aims to enter into dialogue as an interface between the urban needs of cities and the visions of young architects and urban planners.


The development of projects that promote urbanity and address the issue of the status of public space requires that they be located in the context of the sustainability of urban development: they must not harm the environment but rather integrate it into the process of reconstruction.

The projects should address technological developments in the field of ecology (air quality, noise pollution, water quality, microclimate, etc.), and it is necessary to formulate qualitative demands on urban space, especially at the urban level, in the context of the proposed sites for the competition. These take effect at different levels: Mobility and transport networks, density and open spaces, mixed use and intensity, quality and management of public areas.


The objective of managing individual transport and promoting different modes of locomotion are indispensable factors in the pursuit of quality of life in the city.

Location criterion 1: Europan locations should be embedded in urban policies that promote multimodality. While there is often no alternative to the private car as a means of transport for long journeys through the city, public transport and so-called "soft" mobility (cycling, walking) at the neighborhood level must be promoted. The question of diversification of means of transport leads to interesting planning tasks: How can we think of the street space that accommodates this diversity without seeking a solution in, reserved for special functions, corridors that prevent crossing?

Location criterion 2: There is more stationary traffic in the city than vehicles in motion. Parking is predominantly in public street space. The task is to reduce the impact of vehicles in the public realm. The projects for the Europan sites should address these issues of parking and parking management: Restriction and alternative solutions (underground garages, rooftop garages, parking garages, etc.).


Limiting urban sprawl that consumes natural space is an essential element of sustainable development. Complementary to this is the demand in the city itself for the creation or enhancement of communal open spaces and for green space in an urban context. Corresponding land use planning requires a higher building density with simultaneous opening up to such open spaces.

Site criterion 3: Europan sites should incorporate natural spaces, while densifying the building stock. A balanced approach here raises the spatial question of interaction between open spaces and the morphology of the city.


The functional city separates by use and builds on urban zones. This policy favored urban sprawl and requires more and more mobility on the way from one zone to another. Today, the goal of sustainable development is to promote mixed-use development that shortens long distances again and expands social interactivity. How can residential neighborhoods become more urban and diverse?

Site Criterion 4: Europan sites should include projects that introduce mixed use (at the building and neighborhood level). They should formulate spatial concept questions so that quiet residential and urban intensity (commercial, services, leisure, etc.) can coexist in the neighborhoods.


The city is the product of a multitude of private initiatives that must be able to coexist in the public realm. The modern, consumer-driven city tends to favor the private and the commercial, as well as private investment, to the detriment of the general public, the community, and public property.

Location criterion 5: The redevelopment of Europan sites can be based on the development of private spaces (residential, commercial), but must include a substantial part of the public realm to allow the competition participants to conceive of new public spaces as a unifying factor of their projects. This is not only about the form, but also about the use of these public spaces. How does the transition from private to public space work? To what extent can public space be a platform for different and varying uses? How can a new type of public space be conceived in motion?


Creating urbanity is a task for architects and landscape designers. It is the buildings that delineate public space and the street furniture, their dialogue with planting and wayfinding, that create the desired atmosphere. Urbanity is landscape, atmosphere and space. It is perceived equally when looking out of the window as in motion, as pedestrian or motorist. The Europan competition thus locates itself in the area between urban planning and architecture and promotes the ability to think about the relationship between public and private space and to "shape urbanity architecturally."

It is difficult to specify the exact size of a Europan site, but its scale must be specified in relation to the size of the area and the individual building. Therefore, the sites should include two scales: - The site for a study can be chosen large, provided that there is a clearly predetermined spatial and regional planning (location of major infrastructure facilities, relationship city - nature, etc.). This scale allows contest participants to understand comprehensive planning issues and how they fit into their project. - The project site should allow competition participants to explicitly approach the theme of European urbanity and public space. This is an urban redevelopment site where a variety of buildings can be included and the status of the space that connects them discussed.

There must be a programmatic framework for the sites that specifies the general urban goals of the city, the specific characteristics of the site, the urban planning strategy of the developers at the site itself, as well as a definition of the planned projects.


Europan aims to promote strategic projects that influence the development of urban space beyond the site. Regardless of the proposed contexts, this involves the conversion of consolidated neighborhoods, the rehabilitation of complex sites or industrial sites no longer in use, or the upgrading of problematic residential neighborhoods.

Based on this target, the confirmed sites are grouped into thematic groups. These bridge the gap between cities and developers facing the same problems and make it easier for competition participants to better understand the specific nature of each site.