Kreativ- und Reflexionsräume organisieren: Wie Hochschulen zur nachhaltigen regionalen Entwicklung beitragen

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Projektart und Laufzeit

FFF-Förderprojekt, Januar 2018 bis Juli 2020 (abgeschlossen)


Institut für Architektur und Raumentwicklung


Nachhaltiges Planen und Bauen


Architektur und Theorie


The research project addressed the role of universities in the context of a changing society. Specifically, it explores the processes through which universities participate in the un- folding of the social, economic and cultural life in an increasingly urban, creative and entrepreneurial society. Tracing existing practices of univer-sity development through ethnographic case studies, the project sought to understand, systematize and re-flect established and emerging interspaces between university and society. Drawing on the concepts of affec-tive atmospheres the research seeks to understand how creativity and reflexivity emerge from encounters on and off campus. The project has published its findings in both the context of the academic discourse and with-in the local practical context of the University of Liechtenstein. It thus sought to inform the future practices of universities in general and the University of Liechtenstein, the Principality of Liechtenstein and its citizens in particular.

Current research on the relationship between university and (urban) society has distinguished various ways in which universities contribute to the economic and cultural life of contemporary western societies. Apart from pointing out and quantifying the universities' rather obvious roles as places of education and consumption, the project underlines how universities serve society as places of encounter, critical reflection and creativity. In this sense the project contributes to an understanding of Universities as "third spaces", "laboratories" and "heterotopias" and contributed to this emerging and interdisciplinary stream of research that by developing a decidedly processual and spatio-aesthetic perspective.

Following an ethnographic research approach informed by the Science and Technology Studies (STS), the project examined narratives, practices and spaces that participate in the generation of encounters between universities and their environments. In form of four case studies the project follows the everyday practices of university life and traces how they intermingle with the in- and outsides of university space. In particular, the research focused on exploring new and experimental ways of creating encounters between the university and its economic, cultural and societal context.

The research project was closely related to and sought to inform the current development of the University of Liechtenstein. By directing the analytical focus towards other (peer) institutions and their respective practices and spaces, the project sought to reflect on the potential developments of the university and its effects on the Principality of Liechtenstein. Apart from presenting and publishing our research findings and methodological insights in the context of international academic discourses, the project equally aimed at continuously inform-ing the process of the spatial development of the University of Liechtenstein.



Architektur, heterotopischer Raum, Hochschulbildung, Third Mission, Ethnographie, affektive Atmosphären


  • Forschungsförderungsfonds der Universität Liechtenstein


  • Elarji, D., & Michels, C. (2021). Same but Different: The Floating University Berlin (FUB) and the Making of Another University. Architecture and Culture, 9(1), 1-23.

  • Michels, C., Hindley, C., Knowles, D., & Ruth, D. (2020). Learning atmospheres: Re-imagining management education through the dérive. Management Learning, 51(5), 20. (ABDC_2022: A; ABS_2021: 3; VHB_3: B)

  • Michels, C., & Steyaert, C. (2019). Atmosphäre. In T. Hensel, M. Wild & R. Eikmeyer (Eds.), BAU [ SPIEL ] HAUS - Reader (pp. 236-241). Wien: VfmK Verlag für moderne Kunst.

  • Michels, C., & Steyaert, C. (2018). Atmosphäre. In T. Beyes & J. Metelmann (Eds.), Der Kreativitätskomplex: Ein Vademecum der Gegenwartsgesellschaft (pp. 44-49). Bielefeld: Transcript.

  • Michels, C., & Steyaert, C. (2018). Creative Cities. In T. Beyes & J. Metelmann (Eds.), Der Kreativitätskomplex: Ein Vademecum der Gegenwartsgesellschaft (pp. 70-75). Bielefeld: Transcript.

  • Elarji, D., & Michels, C. (2018). Sensory Methodologies for Researching Affective Atmospheres in Higher Education Institutions. Presented at the Unspoken, Unseen, Unheard of Unexplored Realities in Qualitative Research, St. Gallen.

  • Michels, C., & Elarji, D. (2018). The other university: unsettling spaces of higher education. Presented at the Third International Conference on Geographies of Education, Loughborough.