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Pandemic-resilient Space for Sustainable Cities - Urban Places for the Pandemic Resilience of Young People.

A transformative research project

At a glance


The justification for this project is based on a combination of the following aspects:

  • The significant impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the lives of young people.
  • The enormous importance of urban space for young people and how it has changed and intensified during the pandemic.
  • The relationship between young people and urban space being almost exclusively regarded as a Problem.

There are some preliminary studies and recommendations for practice concerning the above-mentioned issues. However, they address young people exclusively from the perspective of professionals, whereby they are mostly questioned about their well-being.

In our study, we take young people seriously as experts in both their recreational environment and their ideas and wishes for processes of its development. This transdisciplinary project puts them on an equal footing with the professionals in planning, development, and maintenance of urban space and with us as scientists.

In doing so, the project equally pursues scientific (1, 2, 6) and practice-related (3, 4, 5) objectives that build on one another:

  1. Understanding young people’s actions and needs in and around urban space and the related
  2. understanding of the importance of urban space regarding young people’s pandemic resilience.
  3. By focusing on the importance of urban space for the pandemic resilience of young people, the discourse on the contribution of urban space to sustainable development and its pandemic-related design will be stimulated.
  4. The direct involvement of young people should also provide insights into the participatory orientation of design processes and thus
  5. enables young people to experience self-efficacy in political processes.
  6. The reflection of the research process will also contribute to the further development of participatory and transdisciplinary methods under crisis conditions.

The project addresses these topics using qualitative methods of social research. It follows the paradigm of grounded theory in its further development as situations analysis. Creative methods are used to work with young people, and problem-centred interviews are conducted with professionals. Materials are evaluated qualitatively using content analysis. Human and nonhuman elements such as places and discourses were integrated in periodical situation analyses. An intersectional view of young people enables us to highlight multiple forms of pressure and needs for space.

Based on these findings, recommendations for the design of urban places and for participatory development processes were derived. In addition, an interdisciplinary and international sounding board support the reflection of findings and methods. The research process is structured with a transdisciplinary workshop series including all the participants. The participation of young people in the entire research process promises deeper insights into the field of research than claimed by studies “about young people”.

The analysis of the evolution of the pandemic is likely to provide valuable information on the pandemic resilience of urban space, embedded in the requirements of sustainable urban development. Owing to the participation of professionals in the research process, the thus gained and co-produced knowledge directly addresses their challenges and can be instantly applied. The reflection on the methods applied should give advice regarding future-oriented action under crisis conditions for both science and practice.

Further information