Transurbane Konsumräume : Typologie und Ästhetik großflächiger Einzelhandelsaggregate in der deutschen Zwischenstadt unter besonderer Berücksichtigung gebauter Beispiele von 1990 bis 2007

  • Transurban spaces of consumption : typology and aesthetics of large-scale retail aggregates in the German in-between city particularly considering built examples from 1990 to 2007

Winterhager, Robert; Wachten, Kunibert (Thesis advisor)

Aachen : Publikationsserver der RWTH Aachen University (2008)
Dissertation / PhD Thesis

Aachen, Techn. Hochsch., Diss., 2008


Transurban spaces of consumption are a sub-category of the partly urban and partly rural space, for which the German urban planner and theoretician Thomas Sieverts in 1997 coined the term "Zwischenstadt" translating in-between city or transurbia. Transurban spaces of consumption are a collective term comprising all architectonic and urbanistic implications on the built urban environment caused by the suburbanization of large-scale retail facilities. This fundamental study gives the first comprehensive and coherent account of transurban spaces formed by retail aggregations as seen from the point of view of architects and urban planners. The study bases on three columns represented by chronology, typology and field-studies. The chronology of transurban spaces of consumption traces the historic roots and the conditions under which these spaces developed in Germany over a period of over 60 years between 1945 and 2007. Considering retail-endogenous as well as retail-exogenous factors, it is stated, that the close spatial relationship between retail industry and the urban fabric has been partly lost. Thus mass consumption in the 20th and the early 21st century represents an important deflecting force of urban development. In the typology of transurban spaces of consumption eight prototypical retail centre types or location types are being defined and analysed according to their functional profiles and their position within the cityscape. These definitions of prototypes are complemented by reflections on their respective evolution and short case studies of built examples. The typology distinguishes between universal centre types, transgressive transurban centre types and structurally induced transurban centre or location types. Universal centre types can be operated irrespectively of their immediate urban or transurban surroundings. They are functioning in an inner-city setting as well as in a location in the periphery or in the open countryside. Shopping centres and urban entertainment centres belong to this first class. Transgressive transurban centre types emerged in transurbia but now setting out to slowly capture inner cities. This second class comprises power centres, corporate brandscapes and factory-outlet-centres. Structurally induced transurban centre or location types due to their land-take, range of goods and for reasons of profitability can only be successfully operated in transurban conditions. This applies for single- or multi-core agglomerations of large-scale retailers as well as automalls and single big-box markets situated in the periphery of cities. Detailed field studies have been carried out on selected objects, each highlighting and clarifying a respective prototype of transurban spaces of consumption. Perception-based analysis of these spaces focuses on context (politics, history, society), structure (architectural and urban space) and aesthetics (aesthetics of economy, aesthetics of usage, aesthetics of illusion). The field studies comprise the following examples: the Nova Eventis shopping centre near Leipzig, the factory-outlet-centre Wertheim Village, the corporate brandscape Autostadt Wolfsburg, three power centres in the Frankfurt Rhine-Main area, two large scale retail agglomerations in the Cologne / Bonn area and one Big-Box furniture store near Cologne. From these detailed analyses derives a criticism of transurban spaces of consumption, consisting of three main issues: 1. Reduction of urban complexity through negation of context, 2. Homogenization of transurban space and exclusion of non consumption conform modes of use and user groups, and 3. Substituting urbanity and diversity for fake-reality. It is concluded, that for the further urban and transurban development these critical matters of discussion mean that the perceived space of inner city and transurban environments becomes less and less distinguishable. Pseudo-urbanization of transurbia and transurbanization of inner city areas fostered by shopping malls and power centers will change the face of our cityscape. Therefore this study closes with an appeal to city-planners and architects alike to actively manage and shape the transurban spaces of consumption in the future. Finally, five central ideas for the future development of this category of space are formulated: cooperation, integration, hybridization, connectivity and design quality.


  • Chair of Urban Design and Institute for Urban Design and European Urbanism [212410]