Research Center »Real-Time City« at TH Köln

The research center »Real-Time City« at the KISD – Köln International School of Design of the TH Köln understands the sensual experience and design of the city as an essential condition for social and cultural action in urban spaces and structures. more

The way in which we perceive, understand and produce the city is shaped in a special way by the media-technological changes of the 20th and 21st centuries. Using case studies, the members and associated researchers of the research center examine exemplary urban configurations to analyze and to present the dense interweaving of sensory perceptions, communicative processes, and spatial-technological environments. The goal of the research is to reveal previously unrecognized potentials of the urban and to rethink and redesign the city as a model of civilization.

The starting point is the assumption that perceptual techniques such as seeing, hearing, and other sensory processes are medial practices that emerge in spatial, social, and technological contexts of action. Therefore, the research focuses on the question of how the interplay of bodies, technical objects, communication systems, and urban spaces can be observed, recorded, and shaped. How do new methods of audiovisualization and spatialization of data influence perception, thought, and action? How do sensory networks determine the imagination and construction of spaces? What processes of inclusion and exclusion do they generate? What do approaches such as »participatory sensing« mean for the development of alternative notions of participation and diversity? What divergent physical-digital environments can be developed that emerge from the disruption of common networking practices?

The researchers address these and other questions from a variety of perspectives. »Real-Time City« is an amalgamation of cultural sciences, design and architecture. In this inter- and transdisciplinary context, cultural studies theory and design practice, basic research and application are programmatically linked. In addition, design research approaches are made productive for participatory design and urban research in order to generate new insights into the interdependencies of design, the city and the culture of digitality.

The research center focuses on three thematic areas:

1. Media Operations in Public Space
New practices of audiovisualization direct and shape perception, movement, and orientation in physical space, creating a new relationship between image, sound, and action. This perspective examines the structure of audiovisuality and operativity in relation to urban spaces and the public sphere.

2. Mobile Structures, Digital Spatial Practices
The aim of this focus is to experience and develop the city through changing mobility structures and processes. This is based on a broad understanding of mobility as the movement of people, goods, information and energy in physical and digital space.

3. Urban Systems, Communication and Signs
The third focus is the exploration and design of the relationship between urban identity constructions and language, spatial semantics, and sign complexes, which can be defined using semiotic, systemic, and cultural sciences categories.

The research center »Real-Time City« was founded in 2018 at KISD – Köln International School of Design of TH Köln.

Prof. Dr. Carolin Höfler, Spokesperson (Design Theory & Research)
Prof. Philipp Heidkamp (Interface & Interaction Design)
Prof. Andreas Wrede (Identity & Design)

Other Scientists Involved
Prof. Marco Hemmerling (Computational Design in Architecture)
Prof. Dr. Michel Müller (Artistic-Experimental Design)
Prof. Dr. Nadine Zinser-Junghanns(Conceptional Architecture & Design)


Image: Tamara Bertran, Marco Bodenstein, and Claus Daniel Herrmann, Point Cloud Ebertplatz, 2019.