What is dense? - An exploratory study of densification regimes and their sociospatial impacts in the Alpine Rhine Valley.

back to overview

Type and Duration

Preproposal PhD-Thesis, since September 2019


Institute of Architecture and Planning

Main Research

Sustainable Planning and Construction

Field of Research

Sustainable Urban Design


Ever since the "Vision Rheintal" process started in the Austrian federal state of Vorarlberg in 2001 the goal of urban densification began to gain in significance and resulted in a number of reforms of the planning system. But, as Charmes and Keil (2015) argued, densification cannot be seen as a uniform policy with uniform outcomes. Therefore, they argued, different "densification regimes" have to be considered. The sociospatial aspect of densification regimes is the main focus of this dissertation, which is investigated through a mixed-method research design to answer the research question "Which densification regimes can be identified in the Alpine Rhine Valley and what are their socio-spatial impacts?" The first step of the analysis inclues a multivariate statistical analysis of small-scale statistical census data to identify different quantitative "densification regimes" and the sociological and morphological changes they imply as a result of densification policies. In a second step five different cases as representatives of the "densification regimes" will be analysed with qualitative methods (interviews, document analysis) to gain more insight in the governance processes which are behind the "densification regimes". Policy recommendations will be derived from the analysis.


Urban densification, Mixed-methods research, Planning policy, Social space, Densification regimes


  • Herburger, J. (2020). Re-Building the Alpine Rhine Valley. An Explorative Analysis of the Socio-spatial Impacts of Urban Densification.. Presented at the digitale Jahrestagung des Jungen Forum der ARL - Visionen für den Raum von Morgen. Instrumente, Ansätze und Perspektiven, virtuell.