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IRPUD History

With the establishment of the School of Spatial Planning in 1968, the decision was made to start a joint institute for spatial planning. The vision was that the institute should be able to function as a "modern research unit" (Gründungsvision Institut für Raumplanung; TUDO Archive). The Institute for Spatial Planning (IRPUD) was supposed to bundle the scientific work of the School of Spatial Planning in interdisciplinary research projects and create a solid basic research in order to be able to base serious spatial planning decisions on a more secure basis (Wegener 2014).

In 1974 the IRPUD was founded as the joint scientific institution of the School of Spatial Planning of the University of Dortmund and Klaus Kunzmann was appointed Managing Director and Head of IRPUD. He retained this position until 1993 and had a major influence on the Institute with his high level of commitment and the aim of establishing spatial planning as a science. In the following years, Heinrich Schoof (1994-1997), Paul Velsinger (1998-2000), Michael Wegener (2000-2002), Hans-Peter Tietz (2003-2005), Hans Heinrich Blotevogel (2005-2009), Dietwald Gruehn (2010) and Stefan Greiving (since 2011) followed.

The institute had not only research tasks, but also the responsibility for the project center, the repro center, the cartography and a position for EDP, which was still in its infancy at that time. As a result, third-party funded projects had to be acquired (Kunzmann 2015). Within a few years, it was possible to secure a large number of research projects financed by third-party funds and thus to provide students with their first practical experience of spatial research (IRPUD 1999: 1). The main areas of research in the early years included:

  • Structural problems of old industrial regions,
  • questions of socially acceptable urban renewal
  • the still young topic of European spatial planning, and
  • methods of spatial planning and research such as simulation models and geoinformation systems.

IRPUD quickly developed into one of the most respected spatial planning institutes in Europe.

Current Research Profile

In its 44 years, the IRPUD "looks back on a broad spectrum of completed research projects, ranging from theoretical and methodological basic research to practical forms of policy advice" (Vierzig Jahre Raumplanung Broschüre: p. 10). The IRPUD has continuously developed its international reputation as a center of top-level research in spatial planning. Its research focuses on all areas of spatial planning, from social science and economics to engineering. (Wegener 2014)

The IRPUD’s current research focus is on spatial risk and climate impact research. Among other things, it builds on IRPUD's many years of expertise in the field of spatial modelling. In risk and climate impact research, the role of spatial planning in assessing risks and climate impacts as well as the development of spatial planning strategies for risk management and adaptation to climate change are examined. This research takes place at all spatial levels, from the international level to the level of a city quarter. So far (as of January 2018), 34 third-party-funded projects (21 of which are EU-funded) have been carried out under this research priority under the leadership of Stefan Greiving.

In this thematic context, the non-European, global dimension of the role of spatial planning in dealing with climate change and extreme events was also given greater consideration. In addition to the classic role of spatial planning in prevention, its role in post-disaster reconstruction is increasingly being examined in line with the UN Strategy on Disaster Risk Reduction ("Build Back Better"). International cooperation in doctoral supervision also plays a special role, including two EU-funded Marie Curie Research and Training Networks and currently a BMBF and DAAD-funded cooperation with Ardhi University in Dar Es Salam (Tanzania). 

The IRPUD continues to be a scientific institution of the School of Spatial Planning, which is involved in the initiation and coordination of large interdisciplinary research projects. Therefore, the format of an annual internal research conference was established in 2015, at which the departments exchange information on their current research activities and work on joint proposals. A great success of the interdisciplinary cooperation was achieved with the acquisition of the BMBF project "Zukunft-Stadt-Region-Ruhr" (ZUKUR), in which 10 faculty departments are involved and in the period 2017-2020 good 1.2 million euros in funding will go to the School of Spatial Planning.