Post-pandemic times and multi-crises as game changers of regional planning cultures? Observations from the urban region of Vienna


  • Alois Humer Austrian Academy of Sciences
  • Anna Kajosaari Austrian Academy of Sciences
  • Martina Schorn Austrian Academy of Sciences


Covid-19 pandemic, crises, functional urban region, strategic planning, planning culture




Urban regions are the functional spaces of a society’s everyday life, work, mobility, and leisure. Urban centres and hinterland regions are combined through manifold interactions which constantly cross administrative borders and connect different places. Yet, when the Covid-19 pandemic started in Europe in early 2020, much of the societal life came to a halt due to public restrictions and lock-downs. Advantages and amenities of urban regions turned into the opposite. Dense urban areas lost their advantages of diversity, culture, and internationality. The importance of nearby green spaces increased dramatically and private open spaces like gardens or balconies gained value. These radical new conditions of urban living challenged urban planning practice to reflect and reorientate its foundation, say planning culture (Schorn et al. 2021). Over the recent years of a post-pandemic age, multiple new crises impact on the development of urban regions; until energy crisis and above all climate crisis. All of which call for new solutions for urban housing, transport, and development at large.

This contribution will provide multi-methodological empirical insights into the transformation of an urban-regional society by analysing primary data from a large survey (n~2,000) conducted with Public Participation GIS (cf. Korpilo, Kajosaari et al. 2021) in the urban region of Vienna. Additionally, results of secondary statistics of regional residential mobility as well as media analyses complement the empirical basis. Yet, the empirical basis is only the point of departure to reflect the practices of strategic spatial planning in the urban region of Vienna in the recent past years. To do so, a panel of regional planning experts was confronted with the many analytical results and interviewed in how far their planning practices – which may aggregate to a notion of regional planning culture – have changed in the face of the multi-crises conditions. We know from literature that established planning cultures are reluctant to change but there are certain modes and dynamics that can lead to a lasting planning cultural change (Purkarthofer et al. 2021). This contribution will answer, whether the thesis of a changing planning culture in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic and following crises holds true or if the urban regional effects did not alter the planning practices lastingly.

This contribution is financed by the Austrian Science Fund FWF (P-35066-G).


Korpilo, S., Kajosaari, A., Rinne, T., Hasanzadeh, K., Raymond, C. M., & Kyttä, M. (2021). Coping With Crisis: Green Space Use in Helsinki Before and During the COVID-19 Pandemic. Frontiers in Sustainable Cities, 3, 1-13

Purkarthofer, E., Humer, A. & Mattila, H. (2021) The culture of regional planning and regional planning cultures in regions; Planning Theory & Practice 22(2), 244-265

Schorn, M., Franz, Y., Gruber, E. & Humer, A. (2021) The COVID-19 pandemic: impetus for place- and people-based infrastructure planning; Town Planning Review 92(3), 329-334