Subprojects | Project Area A | Knowledge of Space

The Spatial Knowledge of Young Adults: The Constitution of Online, Offline and Hybrid Spaces

In the first funding period of the CRC, the subproject was able to identify trends in the refiguration of spaces of childhood and adolescence. It became clear that, amid ongoing processes of refiguration, widely used “action space” models no longer adequately describe the lifeworld of young people. Simultaneity and overlaps between different spatial logics increasingly shape young people’s spatial knowledge. In the second funding period, we aim to consolidate our findings on a longitudinal basis. The aim of the second phase is to capture the increasing heterogeneity of adolescent lifeworlds by formulating different types that map the spectrum of adolescent spatial constitutions and thereby reveal different patterns of interweaving spatial figures. The project will moreover investigate the effects of digital mediatization on spatial knowledge. We determine the spatial knowledge of young people on the basis of spatial practices, communicative actions and spatial perceptions.

The subproject’s main research questions are: (i) Which characteristic spatial practices, communicative actions and spatial perceptions shape the spatial knowledge of young people and what are the different types of spatial constitutions that can be inferred from this? (ii) How do young people connect different spatial figures (including territorial space, network space, trajectorial space, and place) in their everyday actions? (iii) Which influencing factors are particularly formative for young people’s spatial knowledge and to what extent does this establish different types of spatial constitutions? Above all, how does digital mediatization (especially smartphone use) shape young people’s spatial knowledge? And to what extent, how, and with what results are spaces constituted as online, offline, and as hybrid, or are spatial orders increasingly hybridized?

With an innovative multi-method approach developed specifically for the project, we aim at a comprehensive perspective that reconstructs the constitution of “online spaces” and “offline spaces” not as separate processes, but as mutually dependent processes that also produce “hybrid spaces”. The methodological design also allows for in-depth insights into the role of materialities (including the shape of concrete places and the meaning of individual artifacts) in young people’s spatial knowledge. The continued comparison between Germany (Berlin) and Peru (Lima) enables the project to determine to what extent global types of spatial constitutions can be made out – in view of (partially) converging (urban) spaces of childhood and youth worldwide as well as the effects of digital mediatization on the spatial knowledge of young people.


Phase 1 (2018-2021)

Education: The Spatial Knowledge of Children and Young Adults and it’s Application in Planning Contexts

The research project addresses the Refiguration of Spaces by both exploring changes in the spatial knowledge of children and adolescents since the 1970s and looking at the constitution of space through its significance to (non-formal) educational processes. Moreover, the research explores how the spatial knowledge of children and youngsters is articulated, collected, processed and eventually implemented within participatory design and planning processes. Methodologically, the project comprises a qualitative meta-analysis of about 60 existing (German-, English- and Spanish-language) studies concerned, in diverse manners, with children and/or young people and their spaces as well as spatialities. To this purpose, an interpretative procedure for synthesizing a large number of different empirical studies has been developed. Further, the qualitative meta-analysis is combined with three empirical case studies on the planning and design of urban (public) spaces in Peru, Colombia and Germany. An integral part of these case studies is a collection of narrative maps children and young people create and in which they represent their everyday spaces.

First results of the qualitative meta-analysis indicate that children and adolescents are increasingly and simultaneously embedded in different (also virtual) spaces, which can follow different spatial logics and be located on different scales. Accordingly, children’s and teenagers’ spatial knowledge evinces a heterogenization and differentiation of the spatial structuring of childhood and adolescence. These preliminary observations can be linked to processes of (digital) mediatization and translocalization through an increasing circulation and mobility. Furthermore, there are traces of an increasing pedagogization of spaces – expressed in their specialized and tailored design – for children and young people. Interestingly, these pedagogized spaces are perceived differently by children and adolescents in different contexts and thereby give rise to different spatial practices.


In our case studies we cooperate with the following planning and architecture offices and initiatives:

Lunárquicos, Fabiola Uribe, Bogotá

CCC – Coordinadora de la Ciudad en Construcción, Javier Vera Cubas, Lima

Urban Catalyst, Berlin

The field research in Latin America is also supported by Jorge Raedó, Osa Menor.