Sustainability increases the complexity of urban planning. The integration of scientific knowledge and the participation of stakeholders in planning processes are among the key factors in the “diversity of causal linkage patterns” (Schneidewind; 2014). Urban planning must gain, use, and distribute this diverse knowledge. This is crucial in the field of planning education. Considered to be “wicked problems” (Horst Rittel) to this day, planning problems continue to resist digital-based solution strategies. This originates in their uniqueness, their political dimension, and the diversity of the relevant bodies of knowledge surrounding planning problems. A comparison between the concepts of sustainability and planning reveals an important similarity: Both are constituted by a knowledge network (cf. Reuter, de Bruyn; 2014). In the case of urban planning, this network integrates technical, sociological, and cultural-historical knowledge. This leads to the question on how to plan the planning of sustainable districts: How can the network of knowledge be made accessible, how can it be used productively, and how can it be shared? Three areas seem relevant here: Consideration of the network structure of knowledge, integration of stakeholder knowledge into the planning process and the development of a low-threshold manner of knowledge transfer. As a method for knowledge transfer in planning processes, both architects and urban planners traditionally use typologies. Typologies represent paradigmatic solutions that provide relevant information for design tasks with similar objectives. Essential to this concept is the translation of heterogeneous knowledge into a plan as a graphic representation. This translation illustrates interactions, clarifies the complex interrelationships of influencing factors, and makes these usable in other contexts in a low-threshold manner. Competence in sustainable urban planning links disciplinary expertise and transdisciplinary knowledge of stakeholders. Taking these complementary bodies of knowledge into account offers the opportunity to evolve the concept of typology into the concept of “complex typologies”. “Complex typologies” make it possible for planners to use the knowledge network of sustainable urban planning without the need to consult various experts. Similarly, “complex typologies” offer an opportunity to use knowledge for planning sustainable districts in different spatial contexts. The absence of specific designs constraints illustrates and strengthens the context-dependency of successful sustainability strategies. The article examines influencing factors, obstacles and potentials in the development and use of “complex typologies” as a planning tool for sustainable urban districts using the example of the EnStadt:Pfaff research project, which supports the German city of Kaiserslautern in the conversion of a former industrial site into a mixed-use urban district.
Stefan Staehle is deputy director of the Institut für nachhaltiges Bauen und Gestalten (INBG) at Kaiserslautern University of Applied Sciences. He currently holds the professorship of urban planning and landscape architecture. He studied architecture and urban planning at the University of Stuttgart, where he earned his doctorate at the Institut für Grundlagen der modernen Architektur und Entwerfen (IGMA). His teaching and research focus on systemic sustainability strategies in urban neighborhoods and their effects on the organization and structure of planning processes.
Lisa Schlabitz is a research associate at the Institut für nachhaltiges Bauen und Gestalten (INBG) at Kaiserslautern University of Applied Sciences. She is investigating the development of sustainable typologies as part of the EnStadt:Pfaff project. After completing her master’s degree at the Beuth University of Applied Sciences Berlin, she worked at the Department of Construction Management and Construction Economics at the Brandenburg University of Technology Cottbus-Senftenberg. Lisa Schlabitz is a DGNB Registered Professional and an expert for energy-efficiency and sustainability in new and existing buildings.