Welcome to the website of “Stadtumbau West” (Urban Restructuring in West Germany), an urban restructuring programme, and thank you for your interest in urban regeneration and redevelopment within the old federal states of Germany.

“Stadtumbau West” started as a funding programme for urban restructuring in 2004. Until 2013, 443 cities and municipalities were included in the funding programme, about 100 of which cooperated on an intermunicipal basis. On this website, you will find information about the programme, examples of what it has achieved as well as further reading and links to “Stadtumbau West”.

The objective of the “Stadtumbau West” programme is to find ways to react to the challenges of urban regeneration and urban development generated by demographic and economic structural change, a process that creates a development often referred to as shrinking cities or regions.

You will find here information on the background of the programme and how it came about. In addition, you will read about the scope and impact of its activities, research topics associated with the programme and three practical examples.

  • Background
  • Activities of the programme
  • Scientific monitoring
  • Literature/Links
  • Contacts


“Stadtumbau West”, which means “Urban Restructuring in West Germany”, is a promotion programme initiated by the German Federal Governement and the state governments. It has been a central pillar of urban development funding since 2004. “Stadtumbau West” is a reaction to the impact on urban development and housing caused by demographic and economic structural changes in German cities that have led to shrinking cities and municipalities.

The need for urban restructuring became apparent at the end of the 1990s. A report by a commission of experts carried out on behalf of the German Government (on “Residential Structural Change within the New Federal States") for the first time showed that the eastern federal states, in particular, have regions with severe and permanent residential vacancies as a result of a dwindling population. This process of population loss and the resulting empty homes are often referred to as "shrinking cities".

The term "urban restructuring" was coined for the municipal task of dealing with population loss. In 2002, a competition for the best urban restructuring concepts was held as part of the “Stadtumbau Ost” (Urban Restructuring in East Germany) project, which received excellent feedback with contributions handed in by 260 east German municipalities. During that year, the Federal Government resolved to initiate the funding programme “Stadtumbau Ost” as the basis for realising these concepts.

Activities of the programme (and Practical examples)
Between 2004 and 2013, the subsidies given by the Federal Government within the urban restructuring programme amounted to almost 749 million euros.
The priorities for the financial aid in the “Stadtumbau West” programme are as follows:

  • Strengthening inner cities and town centres
  • Revitalising industrial locations/urban derelict land or brownfields
  • Furthering development schemes for residential areas

443 cities and local authorities in west Germany are taking part in the urban restructuring programme “Stadtumbau West”. The municipal experience will be illustrated by presenting three examples:

Strengthening inner cities and town centres: the example of Gelsenkirchen:
GEcityGelsenkirchen is located in west Germany (in the Ruhr industrial region) and has lost more than 140,000 inhabitants and jobs since the middle of the 1960s owing to the decline of mining and heavy industry.
This shrinking process has also led to the decline of the inner city. Consequently, Gelsenkirchen has initiated a process that aims to strengthen the city centre, to upgrade streets and public spaces as well as commercial and residential buildings and to enhance neighbourhood areas.
The ongoing renewal process, which is also supported by other measures in the field of urban development, is documented in this presentation.

Revitalising industrial locations/urban derelict land or brownfields: the example of Pirmasens:
pirmasens_rheinbergerThe city of Pirmasens with its 40,000 inhabitants is situated in the federal state of Rhineland-Palatinate in southwest Germany and formerly was a significant location for the footwear industry and an important site for the United States armed forces. As a result of a relocation of the footwear industry, many jobs were lost and various industrial brownfield sites were left behind in the inner city area. Nowadays, the city also has to cope with a difficult situation in the form of conversion problems caused by the withdrawal of the American forces. Since 2005, the premises of the largest and most important shoe company, Rheinberger, have been converted into offices, a science centre and living space. This project has a high symbolic value for the restructuring of the city as a whole. The following presentation gives a vivid impression of the revitalisation.

Urban restructuring of residential areas: the example of Bremen-Tenever:
einleitungstext_oteTenever was constructed as a high-rise area in the late 1960s on the outskirts of Bremen, a city that lies in northwest Germany and has around 550,000 inhabitants.
Since the time it was built, the settlement has suffered from a lack of acceptance. Since there were high vacancies in housing stock and continuous social difficulties at the end of the 1990s, a housing company called GEWOBA and the Bremen city authorities decided to initiate the urban restructuring of Tenever.
In a process that lasted around ten years, a concept was agreed upon and many residential buildings and 900 apartments were torn down. In addition, residential buildings were renovated and the social infrastructure was adjusted. An insight into the reconstruction of Osterholz-Tenever is given by this presentation.

Scientific monitoring
The urban restructuring programme “Stadtumbau West” is being accompanied by a scientific monitoring process that comprises the following elements:

  • The Federal Transfer Office “Stadtumbau West” has been set up to evaluate activities of the Federal Government and the federal state governments, to document practical examples and to arrange events that enable experiences to be exchanged. An English abstract of the documentation of the Federal Transfer Office dating from 2009 can be found here.
  • A survey of all participating municipalities until 2007 was conducted in 2008/2009. A summary of the results in English is available here.
  • An analysis of progress in the pilot project of the ExWoSt research field of “Stadtumbau West” started in 2008. The urban reconstruction schemes within the ExWoSt research field “Stadtumbau West” in 16 pilot municipalities were completed at the end of 2007. Between 2002 and 2007, the schemes were funded with subsidies totalling 30 million euros. An investigation of progress, which was carried out at the end of 2008, examined the question what kind of progress was able to be achieved up to then and what the lessons were from which municipalities as well as the Federal Government and the state governments could learn. Additional information can be found here (German).
  • Comparable urban development approaches in selected Middle and Eastern European countries were evaluated in a special study (including an English summary from p. 6-9), which is available here.
  • Between October 2010 and January 2012 “Stadtumbau West” was evaluated. A summary of the evaluation of the Urban Development Funding Programme "Urban Restructuring in the Old Federal States" dating from April 2012 you can find here (English).

Further information to the scientific monitoring of the urban restructuring programme “Stadtumbau West” can be found here (German).

The following English or German documents relating to “Stadtumbau West” in general are available: 


For questions and information on “Stadtumbau West”, please contact the Federal Transfer Office at:
FORUM Huebner, Karsten & Partner
Schlachte 1 / Erste Schlachtpforte 
D-28195 Bremen
“Stadtumbau West” telephone number:
Tel.: +49 (0)421 / 696 777 - 22

Persons to contact:matthes2 
Felix Matthes
Tel.: +49 (0)421 / 696 777 -16  E-mail: matthes@forum-bremen.info 



Martin Karsten
Tel.: +49 (0)421 / 696 777 -17  E-mail: karsten@forum-bremen.info