First Places

Vacancy as Opportunity, Decentralized Bolo – Wilkinsburg, PA ,USA

Student: Gautam Jagdish Thakkar

University: Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, United States

The goal of the project is to capitalize on vacancy as a resource, to establish agency for the people to change their built environment through design and to initiate a co-operative movement leveraging skill-sets to establish an alternative way of living that can address the wicked problems in postindustrial cities. The project approaches issues in Wilkinsburg through the perspective of Community Forge, an community initiative, borrowing its goals to build a co-operative model. The project functions in two spheres – one is where it envisages how vacant buildings and vacant lots can be appropriated by the people to adapt to their needs. Secondly, it tries to create an inventory of vacant houses and lots with a detailed data set that is put together as an interactive online map that can be used by the community to understand the building stock available at hand.

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Clean Walls = Higher Rent?! Gentrification Debate in Legacy Cities

Students: Kristina Ehrhorn, Verena Gerwinat, Annika Guhl, Tanja Schnittfinke, Carsten Urban, Adam Brown, Liz Deichmann, Elizabeth Gerard, Sydney Gosik, Mark Kasen, Jodie Lloyd, Julia Spoerry, Nathan Theus, Chancelor Thomas

Professors: Susanne Frank, Todd Swanstrom, Sabine Weck

University: University of Missouri-St. Louis, Washington University in St. Louis, TU Dortmund University

This intercultural research explores gentrification debates in legacy cities: Dortmund, Germany and St. Louis, Missouri. While most research on gentrification has focused on hot market cities, legacy cities have struggled with the consequences of post-industrialism, such as economic decline and high poverty rates; changing how gentrification is experienced. 

Residents and stakeholders have mixed opinions about new development, sparking heated debates about inequality and neighborhood change. To examine this discourse, we studied neighborhoods with quantifiable economic, physical and social change. Interviews with residents and stakeholders were conducted to understand how individuals perceive change in their communities. These were used to develop strategies for community participation and empowerment, with the goal of creating equitable redevelopment and improved economic opportunity.

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Second Place


Students: Klara van Eickels, Sylvia Birrong, Carsten Brüderle, Ahmed Fakhrul, Philipp Göpfert, Allieu Badarr Koroma, Mariana Sarnicola Pires Holanda Macedo, Bianca Martini, Francis Ndubuisu Okoh, Nora Schramm, Marleen Wilhelm

Professor: Klaus Krumme

University: University of Duisburg-Essen

#EssenSteigtAuf is a project by students of the Master’s program "Urban Systems" at the University of Duisburg-Essen. The ambiguity of the name is wanted and can be interpreted as ‘Essen starts cycling’ as well as ‘Essen levels up’. In order to safely and easily cycle from A to B on a daily basis, sufficient infrastructure and acceptance are often missing, even though a network of cycle paths already runs through parts of the Ruhr Area. The goal is to show Essen's potentials as a bicycle-friendly city and to draw attention to the many benefits of everyday cycling. Join us and get on your bicycle with us!

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Third Place

Access to Education

Students: Laura Hering, Oanh Nguyen

University: TU Dortmund University

Access to Education was a project by a group of two students, both graduate students at TU Dortmund: "We both believe that transformation processes can only be sustainable and impactful when citizens from all strata of society are involved. Focusing on education as a means to empower and engage also the educationally deprived, we see huge potential in connecting our university and other public institutions to work together on a network that fosters a change towards a so-called knowledge city arising from a lifelong-learning attitude and vice versa."

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Special Mentions

Water Marks, Micro-Urban Hydrophilic Spaces for Water Advocacy and Awareness in Pittsburgh

Students: Sai Prateek Narayan Ramachandran

University: Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh

A myriad of problems have been causing water to become one of the most rarefied and contested natural resources. Due to our apathetic consumerist behavior, we have become desensitized to nature and oblivious to the rarity of water, the one resource-based commons that is most intimately tied with every living being on this planet. This destruction of the hydro-social cycle gives an opportunity for urban designers to produce collaborative spaces for the state and public to harmonize and share knowledge on our natural resources, even reactivate public spaces around this resource to increase visibility and knowledge of its infrastructure, encouraging its preservation as a public good. When considering our natural resources, we should bolster the relationship between the state and civic spheres to work towards the access and treatment of resources through place-making that stresses partnership and kindles advocacy.

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Mill Creek Trail Plan

Students: Xintian Wang, Lin Han

Professor: Conrad Kickert

University: University of Cincinnati

The goal of the Mill Creek Trail Plan is to propose a comprehensive urban trail plan in Lockland, Ohio as part of Triangle Trail that will connect people and places across Lockland. This trail plan will become an opportunity as greenway system for revitalizing surrounding underutilized parks, private property and natural area. Residents in Village of Lockland will benefit from connections within the village and to Mill Creek in terms of health and economy. Additionally, the trail plan promote a potential opportunity to attract people to Lockland. The length of the trail is 11469ft and the estimated cost for the trail in Lockland is $1,016,995.

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(Re-)Brandings, Narratives and Scripts for the Future of the Ruhr Area and the Rust Belt

Students: Brenda Liz Lamboy, Mareike Lange, Kayla Andrea Weigland, Patrick Matthew Grimone, Jan Niederprüm, Svenja Kolpack, Sarah Mueller, Heike Garrels, Jessica Rähse, Vanessa Angenendt, Saskia Ziemacki, Dirk Jansen

Professors: Svea Braeunert, Tanja Ursula Nusser, Lindsay Preseau, Todd Herzog, Jens Martin Gurr, Rolf Parr, Johannes Krickl, Linda Leskau

University: University of Cincinnati, University Duisburg-Essen

In two projects, one American and one German, two groups have each developed future perspectives for the cities in which we live and learn: "We first did research in our own cities, sifted through material, took photos and shot film sequences, discussed, looked back and forth, and then worked together for a week in a joint 'Transatlantic Seminar' to present our theses and ideas for the presentation. The result are two equally analytical and artistic projects of 'Future of my City', which develop future perspectives in different ways, but both with the means of filmic presentation. In the Ruhr area, this takes place in the form of a simulated retrospective from the year 2050, in the case of the door to the Midwest of the USA as a prognosis based on what has already happened in terms of cultural and culinary reconstruction; to be more precise: on the one hand on the basis of a new-old beer culture, on the other hand with a view to the renaturation of a river and concepts of urban gardening."

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Theater Play "Nordstadt Café"

Students: Lucy Kohlmeier, Lisa Sievers, Rebecca Scheurmann

Professor: Türel Tan, Zishan Ugurlu

University: TU Dortmund University

It is two weeks before the street festival in the Nordstadt. Lead by an ambitious and young politician, the organization committee is trying to put the festival together. In the middle of their meeting at Nordstadtcafé, they receive a call that informs them that the festival is cancelled due to a new development project. The play explores how each character reacts and copes with this sudden turn of events. The play poses the question how a neighborhood would react to disruption.

The topics and characters are the result of interviews conducted with people working or living in the Nordstadt neighborhood of Dortmund, Germany. This project is designed as a workshop and exercise in urban exploration. It invites participants to adapt the play for their neighborhood.


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