Knowledge Needs Space

Challenges and Perspectives of Future Living Environments

Knowledge Needs Space

The conference will focus on the current changes of working environments, social and societal interaction in what is often referred to as the knowledge society, and the resulting demands on private and public spaces. Currently observed developments will be discussed from different professional perspectives. What kind of social changes can be observed? What challenges arise from new working models and forms? How is education provided today and how will it be provided in the future? What demands do the current and expected transformations raise for the design of our urban spaces?

Page Overview

Register Now! Registration open until Jan 25th 2022

The conference is free and open to the public. Click here to register!

The conference is recognized by the Chamber of Architects Baden-Württemberg and Hessen as professional training for all disciplines. Please indicate in the registration if you need a certificate of attendance for the chamber of Architect.

For attending the conference KIT students can receive max. 4 signatures for "interdisciplinary qualification" (Event Number:1700000 / 800025) .


NEWS! The conference will take place entirely online. The on-site event at KIT Karlsruhe cannot be offered due to the current pandemic situation.


The growing importance of knowledge has reached almost all areas of life in our society and is changing the way we live, work and interact. Knowledge is now the productive factor of a growing economic sector. Complex and often abstract knowledge is gaining ever greater importance as a basis of technical innovations. These transformations are being driven by the increasing digitalization of economic, private and social life. The social changes represent a great opportunity, but also a danger of social groups will be left behind depending on their access to education. Creativity, innovation and participation of a wide range of users seem to be an important key for shaping the knowledge society of the future.

However, societal transformation is also changing cities, their spaces and architectures. Urban spaces are the venues of social processes. The production and application of knowledge are closely linked to the spatial structure of the city and its architecture. Even though the knowledge society increasingly operates in global contexts, knowledge, education and competence are ultimately tied to people and thus to places. Urban contexts, with their concentration of creative knowledge workers and knowledge-based uses, offer favorable conditions, the breeding ground for creative or innovative knowledge development.
Recently, not only in cities but also in rural areas, more and more open indoor and outdoor spaces are emerging that invite learning, interaction and experimentation and seek to foster chance encounters between diverse user groups.
How do these social transformations affect our coexistence and the need for spaces? What spaces are needed so that participation in knowledge can succeed for many parts of society? What role can urban spaces play in social coexistence?


The conference is divided into three content sessions and a subsequent workshop. In the sessions, different positions on the topics of society, work, education and competence will be presented by young researchers from different disciplines.
Special attention will be paid to the spatial relevance of these topics: How are social transformation processes reflected in the city? Where do new forms of work and models of knowledge transfer become visible in urban and rural areas? What developments can be expected for the future?
In the follow-up workshop, the spatial requirements from the individual topic areas will be elaborated in the form of intensive cross-disciplinary and cross-topic discussions.
For detailed information click here.

Friday, January 28th 2022

09.00 Introduction and Welcoming
Prof. Dr. Barbara Engel, KIT Karlsruhe

09.15 Keynote: Prof. Dr. Sabine Ammon "Conceptual Spaces and Design Knowledge: Shaping Visions of Technology Futures"
Berlin Technical University, Institute of Machine Tools and Factory Management and Institute of Philosophy, History of Literature, Science and Technology

10.20 Session 1: New Working Environments
The growing number of professions in the knowledge-intensive sector demands a high degree of creativity, flexibility and collaboration from knowledge workers to solve complex problems. The increasing individualization of working hours and the increased possibility of decentralized work, the home office, are also changing the nature, time and place of where, when and how we work.
What impact do the rise of the knowledge economy, technological developments and digitalization have on our working worlds? What influence do these developments have on our own working environment and what demands do they place on their environment? What do the new forms of work characterized by co-production and co-operation look like? What new spatial requirements arise from these transformations?

New Work Sites and Places of Encounter in the Knowledge Economy:  Challenges für the Polycentric German Urban System
Madeleine Wagner, (Jun.-Prof. Dr. Anna Growe), Heidelberg University, Institute of Geography, Department of Regional Governance

The spatial design of knowledge intensive working locations in the City of Munich
Christiane Müller, Jonas Gläßer, (Prof. Alain Thierstein), Technical University of Munich, Chair of Spatial Development

Form Flexible to Situated Geographies: Conceptualizing Innovations and Experimental Work Processes
Dr. Bastian Lange, Leipzig University, Institute of Geography and Multiplicities, Berlin

The Knowledge Achitecture Paradigm: Research Framework for a New Kind of Design Science
Prof. Dr. Jörg R. Noennig, Technical University Dresden, Laboratory of Knowledge Architecture and Hamburg University, Digital City Science, CityScienceLab

Panel Discussion
Moderated by Prof. Dr. Alexandra Den Heijer

14.00 Session 2: Education and Culture

The academization of our society means that the acquisition of knowledge in the social and private spheres is becoming increasingly important. Access to education and skills is the central key to each individual's participation in social processes. Even today, the ways in which people learn have become highly differentiated. In addition to formal learning in traditional institutions, self-directed learning, educational processes and informal learning venues are emerging that impart social competences, personal skills and practical knowledge. Today, educational paths are no longer one-dimensional and limited in time. Lifelong learning is a requirement due to rapid technological developments and the resulting continuous adaptations.
What different forms of learning will be needed in the future? With which other uses will these places be linked and why?

Towards the Fourth Place and its Implications for Cities
Dr. Arnault Morisson, Institute of Geography, University of Bern

Learning with(in) the City: Spaces outside of the Classroom
Belen Zevallos, Heidelberg School of Engineering and Architecture, Reallab City-Space-Education

"Back to my office": On the central Importance of a Campus for the Knowledge Society
Hanna Jäger, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Institute for Geography and Geoecology

Panel Discussion
Moderated by Prof. Dr. Caroline Kramer

17.00 Résumé

Saturday, January 29th 2022

9.00 Session 3: Governance and Society

The interlinking of our societies, which has been globalizing and advancing for decades, increasingly unites a heterogeneous population with very different lifestyles and cultural backgrounds. With the increased importance of knowledge in our societies come demands on our everyday lives, such as significantly expanded learning behavior or increased creative knowledge processing. At the same time, technological innovations lead to new day-to-day habits and changes in leisure behavior and thus have a strong influence on traditional biographical patterns. In this rapidly transforming society, flexible control mechanisms are essential, to encourage participation and interaction.
What influence do administrative structures have on the emergence and maintenance of spaces of interaction and knowledge? How can the public sector support or guarantee performance around knowledge, innovation and exchange? What is the role of active citizen participation?

How Do Policies Influence Innovation Performance in a Specific Region? Evidence From Zhangjiang High-tech Park in Shangai, China
Simin Yan, Dr. Lin Zou, (Jun.-Prof. Dr. Anna Growe), Heidelberg University, Institute of Geography, Economic Geography and Regional Governance

Living in a ‘Just’ City: Citizen Participation and Social Interaction in Vienna’s Regenerating Neighborhoods
Byeongsun Ahn, Vienna University of Economics and Business, Institute of Sociology and Social Research

Digital Re-figuration of Practices of Space and Knowledge in Urban Planning
Martin Schinagl, Leibniz Institute for Research on Society and Space,
Dynamics of Communication, Knowledge and Spatial Development

Panel Discussion
Moderated by Prof. Dr. Michaela Pfadenhauer

11.30 Workshop: Demands on Urban Space

During the workshop, the changes presented and considered in the sessions will be discussed against the context of urban space at different levels of scale. How is knowledge transfer accomplished in the regional network, how in co-working or public spaces? How must spaces be designed to facilitate chance encounters and exchange, what spatial conditions stimulate the generation of innovation and knowledge exchange? What are the requirements for future, self-determined learning and teaching spaces - beyond the classical educational situations? Which cooperation of actors and uses would be desirable? What conclusions are to be drawn when work and leisure time increasingly mix and the boundaries between private and public spheres shift? How must spaces be designed so that as many different social groups as possible participate in and benefit from social processes?
These questions will be discussed in smaller discussion groups for the different areas of consideration: region, city and neighborhood/typologies, that elaborate the requirements for spatial planning.

Round Table 1: Region
Moderated by Prof. Dr. Caroline Kramer and Prof. Dr. Alexandra Den Heijer

Round Table 2: City
Moderated by Prof. Dr. Barbara Engel and Özlem Altinkaya Genel

Round Table 3: Neighborhood and Typology
Moderated by Prof. Dr. Michaela Pfadenhauer and Sara Reichwein

12.30 Reflection of Workshop Findings and Closing Words
Prof. Dr. Alexandra Den Heijer, Prof. Dr. Barbara Engel, Prof. Dr. Caroline Kramer, Prof. Dr. Michaela Pfadenhauer


  • Chair of International Urbanism
  • Prof. Dr. Barbara Engel
  • Sara Reichwein
  • Faculty of Architecture
    KIT Karlsruhe Institute of Technology

In Cooperation with:

  • Prof. Dr. Caroline Kramer, Human Geography, KIT
  • Prof. Dr. Michaela Pfadenhauer, Sociology, University of Vienna
  • Prof. Dr. Alexandra den Heijer, Public Real Estate, TU Delft
  • Dr. Özlem Altinkaya Genel, Public Real Estate, TU Delft

Sponsored by:

For further sponsoring please contact Conference.KnowledgeNeedsSpace∂ 


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