My work concentrates on bringing a range of voices to the table to co-create a city in which everyone can participate more equally and more people have access to urban resources and governance.
Gender equality in urban policy and planning
Gender equality in urban policy and planning has been one of my core work topics in the last few years. I was the Lead Expert for the GenderedLandscape URBACT Action Planning Network and led the reboot of URBACT’s Gender Equal Cities program. I have given numerous interviews for the press and other talks on this topic. I also offer consulting services for public bodies on gender mainstreaming, for example written assessments like the one completed for Frankfurt am Main, assessing their new public transportation plan from the perspective of women* and girls*. Read more about my work on gender equality on my blog.
Inclusive public participation
Social inclusion is a central aspect of what I do, and nowhere is that more important that public participation. This topic has been the main focus of my work over the last five years, in particular the CIVACT project and my ongoing work in Belfast around the Forth Meadow Community Greenway in Belfast, Northern Ireland, in which I designed and delivered broad and targeted dialogue and engagement, and the co-creation and implementation of a cross-community governance structure. I have also given a number of webinars on stakeholder engagement for the URBACT program. Read more about my work on social inclusion on my blog.
Urban commons and community-led projects
Urban commons are resources in the city which are managed by the users in a non-profit-oriented and prosocial way. They go by many names, from grassroots activism to community-led initiatives. I have been working on this topic since 2012, when the Urban Research Group decided to host a conference about citizen-led projects in cities. Little did I know that this work would yield two books (Urban Commons: Moving beyond State and Market and The Urban Commons Cookbook) and a wealth of other articles. Read more about my work on urban commons on my blog or check out my recorded talks in German and English.
Policies to support cultural and creative industries
Cultural and creative industries (CCI) form the backbone of a vibrant modern urban economy. My 2017 German-language book Städtewandel durch Kultur examined the role of culture and creative industries in urban development from the end of WWII until today, and its potential for resilient urban development. Since then, I have worked to integrate commons principles into my CCI consulting work, also in combination with the reactivation of vacant buildings. Read more about my work on CCI on my blog.
The sustainable reactivation of vacant buildings
The intermediate and adaptive reuse of vacant buildings and the challenges faced by shrinking cities have been a central focus of my work since I moved to Germany in 2007. My work on this topic led me to publish a book chapter on design in shrinking cities, receive a grant from the German Marshall Fund to conduct transatlantic research on the topic, and provide ad hoc expertise for the ALT/BAU URBACT transfer network. You can read more about my work on vacancy and shrinking cities on my blog.
The political, symbolic, and normative aspects of architecture and urban planning
My work on the political, symbolic, and normative aspects of architecture and urban planning range from cultural and memory studies (for example my 2021 book Inventing Berlin) to understanding how the positioning of benches and street furniture affect who uses public space how. These aspects have real consequences for inclusion, nationalism and populism, as I’ve explored in a number of articles focusing on East German identity. Read more about my work on nationalism and cultural memory on my blog.