The research project aims to develop and test models for planning and implementing joint mobility and housing services as well as land use. In the course of the project, the models will also be assessed with regard to their economic viability and their ecologic and social impact.

Research approach

The research project wants to initiate a knowledge brokerage process between joint housing initiatives and housing companies. Innovative ideas from joint housing and mobility concepts are going to be designed to be compatible and economically viable. Furthermore, the research project offers a knowledge pool containing promising ideas and concepts.

Systemizing business models

In order to systemize scopes for action and innovation, framework conditions and practised business models and make them utilizable, good examples as well as existing offers and organizational forms used by the practice partners will be analysed. The analytic dimensions include practices in regions with high or low housing demand, new buildings or already existing housing stock. The inhabitant structure and target groups will also be investigated. For already existing housing property, transport behaviour and mobility orientations as well as the residential environment of the inhabitants will be examined.

Implementation in real-life laboratories

The core of the project is the transdisciplinary development of specific concepts for selected practice partners which will then be implemented (real-life laboratories). The concepts will be developed in teams consisting of research and practice partners. The measures and business models developed for housing and mobility services as well as land use will be locally implemented by the housing initiatives resp. housing companies and will be scientifically evaluated. The experiences made in the real-life laboratories will subsequently be assessed. As far as possible, the services implemented will be empirically analysed with regard to their ecological, social/sociocultural and economical sustainability impact. Concepts that are to be marketed will be classified and evaluated with respect to their viability and their compatibility for existing business models and forms of enterprises.


Currently, initiatives for innovative forms of housing, for example building owners’ associations, young cooperatives or groups of property owners are emerging in many places. Often, sustainability is playing an important role: there is a focus on social justice, sociocultural diversity and exchange as well as the aim to develop affordable housing for several generations. Furthermore, these initiatives emphasize ecological aspects with their desire for environmentally friendly mobility as well as energy and resource efficiency. Social innovations like for instance jointly used facilities and shared spaces (“use instead of own”) and future orientated planning principles (“City of short distances”) are important factors for the implementation of innovative forms of housing.

These community models are faced by the established actors on the housing market: housing construction companies are addressing the mainstream with their proven housing concepts. Creative impulses are rarely considered. There is hardly any exchange between innovative housing initiatives and commercial actors from the building societies: From the building societies’ perspective the joint models do not seem to be marketable. At the same time the new housing initiatives are experiencing that their social innovations often require a lot of commitment that cannot privately be maintained in the long run. A social-ecological transformation in the field of housing and mobility is therefore currently rather taking place in niches.


Jun 2015 to May 2018

Dr. Jutta Deffner, ISOE – Institut für sozial-ökologische Forschung