Potentials and ambivalences of rural multi-apartment buildings for a socio-ecological development of housing estates - a gender-sensitive analysis

Problem statement

Contrary to political goals, land consumption in Germany continues to increase.  A high percentage of this is due to housing construction of single-family houses, especially in rural areas (cf. TTS project description ; Ehrhardt et al. 2022, 532). The reason for the continuing popularity of demand for owner-occupied homes in the form of a single-family house is discussed as an interplay of cultural housing ideals and affluent lifestyles, federal subsidies and municipal settlement policies, all of which have so far promoted the form of living in a single-family house (e.g. Böcker 2020, 23f.; Holm 2021). This policy of owner-occupied housing and the associated housing ideals must be critically reflected not only from an ecological perspective, but also from a social-sustainable perspective. The reason for this is that single-family houses offer attractive living space mainly to a homogeneous group of people who can financially afford to build or buy a house and who often (want to) conform to heteronormative family and living ideals (cf. e.g. Böcker 2020, 22f.; Latocha 2021). In contrast, there is rarely living space available for alternative forms of households and living arrangements in attractive rural development areas. Multi-apartment buildings with shared spaces as well as a diverse range of accommodation might have potential to create living space for heterogeneous population groups and, at the same time, reduce land consumption through residential construction activities.

Research questions

In which way do rural multi-apartment buildings offer transformative potentials and pitfalls for an ecologically and at the same time socially sustainable housing development (esp. in rural housing estates)?

Guiding research questions:

  • Under which (political, economic, social, ...) conditions does the construction of apartment buildings in new housing estates take place and under which conditions do individuals and households (not) decide to move into an apartment building?
  • For whom and why are rural multi-apartment buildings (not) an attractive form of housing? What role do gender relations play in this?
  • What influence do gender relations have on housing value perceptions and housing location decisions? What influence do social categories and gender relations have on the preference for living in a single-family or apartment house?
  • Which specifics of East or West Germany can be identified in the rural housing conditions (single or multi-apartment house)?


The project MultiRural is designed as a qualitative case study with a sociological research design. On the one hand, interview material that has already been recorded in the project “Trends and tendencies in settlement development”  will be 're-'analyzed in a gender-sensitive way. On the other hand, new data material will be collected in two case municipalities. The data material will be analyzed by using the Grounded Theory methodology. This methodology is intended to enable an inductive theorization (Przyborski and Wohlrab-Sahr 2014).


Böcker, Maike, Henning Brüggemann, Michaela Christ, Alexandra Knak, Jonas Lage, und Bernd Sommer. Wie wird weniger genug? Suffizienz als Strategie für eine nachhaltige Stadtentwicklung. München: oekom, 2020.

Ehrhardt, Denise, Sebastian Eichhorn, Martin Behnisch, Mathias Jehling, Angelika Münter, Christoph Schünemann, und Stefan Siedentop. "Stadtregionen im Spannungsfeld zwischen Wohnungsfrage und Flächensparen. Trends, Strategien und Lösungsansätze in Kernstädten und ihrem Umland". Raumforschung und Raumordnung | Spatial Research and Planning 80, Nr. 5 (28. Oktober 2022): 522–41.

Holm, Andrej, Hrsg. Wohnen zwischen Markt, Staat und Gesellschaft: ein sozialwissenschaftliches Handbuch. Hamburg: VSA: Verlag, 2021.

Latocha, Tabea. "Beziehungsweise(n) wohnen – Feministische Gedanken zum Wohnen in der Krise". weiter denken. Journal für Philosophie, Februar 2021.

Przyborski, Aglaja, und Monika Wohlrab-Sahr. Qualitative Sozialforschung: Ein Arbeitsbuch. DE GRUYTER, 2014.

The Leibniz Institute of Ecological Urban and Regional Development is jointly funded by the federal government and the federal states.

FS Sachsen

This measure is co-financed by tax funds on the basis of the budget approved by the Saxon State Parliament.