Organizing spaces of creativtiy and reflection (OSCAR): The university and sustainable regional development

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Type and Duration

FFF-Förderprojekt, January 2018 until July 2020 (finished)


Institute of Architecture and Planning

Main Research

Sustainable Planning and Construction

Field of Research

Architectural Design Theory


The research project OSCAR asks how institutions of higher education organize their spatial development in an increasingly urban, creative and entrepreneurial society. Apart from pointing out and quantifying universities as places of education and consumption, the project team zooms in on how universities serve society as places of encounter, critical reflection and creativity. From this later perspective, universities have been described as third spaces, laboratories and heterotopias. It is this emerging and interdisciplinary stream of research that the proposed project seeks to contribute to, by developing a decidedly processual and spatio-aesthetic perspective. Drawing on the concepts of heterotopic space and affective atmospheres the research team seeks to understand how creativity and reflexivity emerge from encounters on and off campus.
Tracing practices of university development through approximately five ethnographic case studies, the project aims to understand, systematize and reflect established and emerging interspaces between university and society. The project follows the everyday practices of university life and traces how it intermingles the in- and outsides of university space. In particular, the research will focus on exploring new and experimental ways of creating encounters between the university and its economic, cultural and societal context. The project will publish its findings in both the context of the academic discourse on what has been addressed as the university's "third mission" and within the local practical context of the University of Liechtenstein. It thus seeks to inform the future practices of universities in general and the University of Liechtenstein, the Principality of Liechtenstein and its citizens in particular.

Project results:


Architecture, heterotopic space, higher education, third mission, ethnographic research, affective atmospheres


  • 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_2019: 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.