Videos originally published in Seeing the Woods,

4 March 2021

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Spaces of Living in Transformation:
Case Studies for Rethinking the Urban in Munich, Germany


This set of videos captures the everyday sights, sounds, and sensations of two spaces of transformation in Munich, Germany. Produced for the Urban Environments Initiative (UEI) “Re:Thinking the Urban” workshop in January 2021, they serve as a starting point for discussions concerning urban change and renewal around the world.

UEI directors Eveline Dürr (LMU) and Regine Keller (TUM) provide the commentary for both videos and offer viewers an in-depth look at these spaces that have recently undergone significant transformations and what this could mean for other urban contexts facing similar changes.

The first video showcases the Isarauen—the renaturalized section of Munich’s Isar river. Following an intensive collaboration between public stakeholders, the City of Munich renaturalized an eight-kilometer stretch of the river in the early 2000s as a means of establishing visitor-friendly green and blue spaces in the urban core. Due to its resounding success, the project attracted international attention while garnering local criticism for its overuse, which places pressure on nonhuman residents and habitats.

Conversely, the second video, which spotlights the Schlachthof, considers changes that have occurred to Munich’s historic cattle and slaughterhouse district. Opened in 1878, city officials sought to minimize public health risks associated with animal slaughter by relegating the district to the city outskirts. Today, the area has been absorbed by the growing city and is now an attractive residential and cultural district. While animal slaughter has slightly reduced, it is still very much present, contributing to a multi-layered and fluid urban morphology.  

Broadly speaking, these case studies bring to the fore three main topics of interest that connect to other spaces around the globe, namely restoring nature, gentrification, and urban planning. Do renaturalization projects actually work, or do they run against the very idea of what we consider to be natural spaces? What are the impacts of gentrification on plant and animal life in urban areas? And, are planning processes ever really finished in the face of ongoing transformations?

With that, we invite you to jump into these two spaces of living in transformation that will immerse you in urban nature and provide you with ample food for thought!

Click here to learn more about the Isarauen and here for the Schlachthof. For more information concerning the Urban Environments Initiative, click here.

Case Study I: The Isarauen

Case Study II: The Schlachthof and Viehhof area in Munich

The videos were originally published as part of a workshop report:
Dumas, Daniel, and Carolin Maertens. “Re:Thinking the Urban: UEI Workshop Report.” Seeing the Woods (blog), 4 March 2021. View it here.

The Urban Environments Initiative (UEI) is a collaborative research network formed in October 2019 between Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich (LMU), the Technical University of Munich (TUM), the University of Cambridge, and New York University. Since then, the UEI connects researchers from these four core institutions in addition to other affiliates worldwide working on urban environmental topics.

Eveline Dürr (LMU) and Regine Keller (TUM) coordinate the UEI with support from administrative staff based at the Rachel Carson Center. While the UEI officially concluded in July 2021, the network continues to provide opportunities for ongoing collaboration.

Creative Commons License CC BY 4.0
2021 Urban Environments Initiative (UEI)
This refers only to the text and does not include any image rights.

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