Open Access Journal

ISSN: 2183-7635

Article | Open Access

Next Generation Small Urban Manufacturing: Apprentices’ Perspective on Location Factors, Mixed-Use, and Shared Spaces

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Abstract:  Advancements in technology and architecture enable mixed-use development while normative settings like the European Commission’s New Leipzig Charter support the concept of a productive city. Nonetheless, small urban manufacturers (SUMs) including crafts still face displacement due to property prices, conflicts with housing, planning laws, and building regulations. Urban planning and economic development emphasise the importance of identifying and redeveloping suitable sites for urban manufacturing companies. Largely unanswered, however, is whether the next generation of manufacturers (apprentices) want mixed-use locations within the city or space sharing, and if so, under which conditions. Based on two written surveys, this article examines the location requirements of SUMs in Germany and the willingness of apprentices in the Ruhr area to embrace mixed-use buildings and shared spaces. The study focuses on three craft groups: store crafts, workshop crafts, and construction site crafts. The results show that SUMs in Germany and manufacturing apprentices in the Ruhr prioritise car- and security-related infrastructure, as well as low real-estate costs. Store crafts specifically seek affordable and well-connected ground-floor locations. Construction site crafts prioritise (un)loading facilities for trucks on industrial land over sustainable transport infrastructure, and they differ significantly from the other craft groups in terms of mixed-use preferences. However, all craft groups express openness to mixed-use locations with offices and additional workshops and shared spaces like garages, canteens, and showrooms. The article suggests that commercial courtyards could effectively meet the requirements and desires of apprentices and urban planners alike.

Keywords:  built environment; company sites; mixed-use; productive city; shared spaces; urban manufacturing; urban planning and design; vocational students


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© Kerstin Meyer. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (, which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.