Habitat Unit

Prof. Dr. Philipp Misselwitz, Anke Hagemann, Elke Beyer

Transnational Production Spaces

OUT NOW: "Commodity flows and urban spaces"

Special Issue 21/2020, Articulo – Journal of Urban Research
edited by Elke Beyer, Anke Hagemann and Philipp Misselwitz, with contributions by Víctor Muñoz Sanz, Claudia Fonseca Alfaro, Lizzie Richardson, Katharina Grüneisl, Laura Henneke, Anke Hagemann and Elke Beyer.

As industrial production for global markets is dispersed to an ever higher degree across various geographies, it causes steadily expanding physical movements of materials and goods. Spatial divisions of labour, fragmented production relations and selective connectivity have triggered complex spatial transformation processes and, thus, need to be understood as crucial driving forces of global urbanisation dynamics. How the actual sites, routes and transnational spatialities of global commodity production and distribution are constituted, poses many challenging and yet understudied questions for urban research that this Special Issue engages with. It introduces a cross-disciplinary spectrum of current empirical research from emerging scholars from different fields of geography, urban studies, architecture and planning. Contributions address how very diverse urban and peri-urban production settings and logistics spaces across the planet interact with the processing and movement of commodities from manufacturing to distribution and recycling. They focus on the relationship between global commodity circulation and the built environment as a significant expansion and enrichment of previous research debates.

"Commodity flows and urban spaces"The research project: A multi-local study on the impacts of the global clothing industry on urban spaces and urban planning

The worldwide production of goods is increasingly organized within transnational production networks. Regions with very different conditions and resources are connected through complex and highly dynamic production processes based on an international division of labour. The resulting integration in global production systems not only affects local economies, but also the built environment and urban development of the respective places of production.

This research project explores the spatial effects of industrial production and the role of urban planning at different locations of a transnational production network of the clothing industry. It traces the interplay of local and transnational forces in the spatial and physical development of these production locations. Harnessing the research approaches of Global Commodity Chains and Global Production Networks for a multi-local and multi-scalar analysis of urban spaces, it is our aim to investigate the translocal character of urban production places and thus to contribute to the emerging research field of transnational urbanity.

In the medium term, research at Habitat Unit will explore a range of case studies from various industrial sectors and production regions – following the industrial goods in their transnational production and distribution processes in order to investigate diverse production networks and their interplay with spatial structures and urban development. 

Case Study

Our case study focuses on selected industrial locations in Turkey, Bulgaria and Ethiopia which are connected by a production network of the clothing industry supplying Western European fashion companies and markets. The study locations subsequently became target destinations for the relocation of specific production stages or entire segments of production. The core study focuses on clothing production for the European market in the Istanbul metropolitan region. Here, a gradual de-centralization of production from inner-city areas has taken place, including the relocation of large scale industrial operations to the western neighbouring province of Tekirdağ. In the last two decades, producers from Turkey have also partially transferred production to an expanding range of international offshoring destinations in Eastern Europe, the MENA region, Central Asia and most recently, East Africa. Our study investigates such industrial locations and their specific contexts in Bulgaria (Kardzhali) and Ethiopia (Addis Ababa). Within the context of transnational economic dynamics, our research traces how industrial production shapes the physical urban space and drives urban development in these locations, thereby also exploring its interplay with urban and regional planning governance.

The project addresses the principal question how urban spaces of industrial production are constituted at different stations of a transnational production network and what kind of forces are taking effect on them – from local to global ranges of influence. Our research takes materialities as its point of departure – highly mobile commodities and their production on the one hand and the built structures of urban space on the other hand. By combining an analysis of the built environment and qualitative analysis of planning governance, the research project aims to build an in-depth understanding of the dynamics of spatial negotiations and the role, scope and leverage of the different actors involved – from the local to the global scale, between bottom-up and top-down drivers of urban development, and at the intersections between formal and informal economic and building practices.

Project presentation in the concluding Symposium „Mapping the Global Factory. Architectures of Commodity Chains"

The project is funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) under grant agreement No MI 1893/2-1.

Academic Partners+

The project Transnational Production Spaces is part of the DFG scientific network 'The Spaces of Global Production: The Territorial Dimensions of Global Production Networks and World City Networks' (2018-2021).

Advisory Board:

Prof. em. Dr. Peter Herrle (TU Berlin, Habitat Unit/Fachgebiet Internationaler Städtebau)
Prof. Dr. Martina Löw (TU Berlin, Institut für Soziologie, Fachgebiet für Planungs- und Architektursoziologie)
Prof. Dr. Christoph Parnreiter (Universität Hamburg, Institut für Geographie)
Prof. Dr. Gernot Grabher (HCU Hamburg, Arbeitsgebiet Stadt- und Regionalökonomie)


Project advisors:

Prof. Ayse Bugra, PhD (Bogazici Universität, Istanbul)
Prof. Dr. Murat Güvenc (Istanbul Studies Center, Kadir Has University, Istanbul)
Dr. Poli Roukova (National Institute of Geophysics, Geodesy and Geography, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, Sofia)


Research Consultants and Guest Researchers:

Dr. Pelin Olcay (Lecturer, Istanbul Arel University, Architecture Department)
Ilkim Er (Architect, Berlin/Istanbul)
Ina Valkanova (Architect, Plovdiv)
Melaku Tanku Gebremariam (Lecturer, Ethiopian Institute of Architecture, Building Construction and Development (EIABC), Addis Ababa University)



Elke Beyer, Lucas-Andrés Elsner, Anke Hagemann, Philipp Misselwitz (2022)  Infrastructures for Global Production in Ethiopia and Argentina. in: Ana Vaz Milheiro, Ana Silva Fernandes, (eds.) Colonial and Postcolonial Landscapes: Architecture, Cities, Infrastructures - I International Congress: Proceedings, ISCTE-IUL, 2022, 39-59

Beyer, Elke, Lucas-Andrés Elsner, Anke Hagemann, and Philipp Misselwitz (2021) Industrial Infrastructure: Translocal Planning for Global Production in Ethiopia and Argentina. Urban Planning 6, no. 3 (2021), 444–463. DOI: https://doi.org/10.17645/up.v6i3.4211.

Beyer, Elke and Anke Hagemann (2021)  Transnational Urban Spaces. Production locations of the global clothing industry in Ethiopia. In: Luisa Moretto, Axel Fisher, Giuseppe Faldi, eds African Cities Through Local Eyes. Experiments in Place-Based Planning and Design. (The Urban Book Series, Springer, 2021), S. 191-214. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-84906-1
Beyer, Elke, Lucas-Andrés Elsner and Anke Hagemann (2021)  Infrastructures For Global Production in Ethiopia and Argentina: Commodity Chains and Urban Spatial Transformation. In: Christian Haid, Angela Million, Ignacio Castillo Ulloa, Nina Baur, eds Spatial Transformation. Kaleidoscopic Perspectives on the Refiguration of Spaces. Routledge, 2021, S. 120-135. DOI: 10.4324/9781003036159-12

Hagemann, Anke, and Elke Beyer (2020) Globalizing urban research, grounding global production networks: Transnational clothing production and the built environment. Articulo Journal of Urban Research 21 (2020) DOI: https://doi.org/10.4000/articulo.4622
Beyer, Elke, Anke Hagemann and Philipp Misselwitz (2020) Commodity flows and urban spaces. An introduction. Articulo Journal of Urban Research 21 (2020)  DOI: https://doi.org/10.4000/articulo.4522

Special Issue  "Commodity Flows and Urban Spaces"  Articulo Journal of Urban Research 21 (2020)  (Guest Editors: Elke Beyer, Anke Hagemann, Philipp Misselwitz). DOI: https://doi.org/10.4000/articulo.4507

Habitat Unit (Elke Beyer, David Bauer, Lucas Elsner, Anke Hagemann u.a.) (2020)  Die globale Fabrik, Räume der Logistik und die letzte Meile in Berlin-Brandenburg. ARCH+ 241 (2020), S. 197-204

Anke Hagemann, Elke Beyer (2019) The Collapse of the Rana Plaza in Bangladesh: Specific Inequality and Universal Responsibility, ARCH+ Can Design Change Society?, Birkhäuser, p. 130-135

Elke Beyer, Anke Hagemann (2018). "Getting It Right from the Start"? Building Spaces of Transnational Clothing Production in Ethiopia, Trialog (130–131), 63–71.

Anke Hagemann, Elke Beyer (2017) Der Einsturz des Rana Plaza in Bangladesch. Spezifische Ungleichheit und universale Verantwortung, ARCH+ (230), p. 190-195.

Anke Hagemann, Elke Beyer (2016) Patchwork Urbanism – Transnationale Räume der Bekleidungsproduktion in der Region Istanbul, dérive (63).

Anke Hagemann (2015) From Flagship Store to Factory: Tracing the Spaces of Transnational Clothing Production in Istanbul, Articulo - Journal of Urban Research (12)

Anke Hagemann (2015) Räumliche Arbeitsteilung. Städtische Raumproduktion in der Bekleidungsindustrie am Beispiel Istanbul / Spatial division of labour. The production of urban space in Istanbul’s clothing industry, In: Banz, C. and Schulze, S., Fast Fashion. Die Schattenseite der Mode (exhibition catalogue), Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg.

Events and conference papers+


Elke Beyer, Anke Hagemann: Living backstage of the Global Factory, African Conversations Series, Graduate School of Design, Harvard University, Boston and Ethiopian Institute for Building, Architecture and City Planning, Addis Ababa, 19.02.2022


Elke Beyer, Anke Hagemann: (De)Constructing Commodity Chains« Graduate School of Design, Harvard University, Boston, 26.02.2021


Lucas Elsner, Anke Hagemann, Elke Beyer: Global Production, Infrastructure Provision and Urbanization, Southern Africa City Studies Conference, Johannesburg, 01.09.2020


Anke Hagemann: Building the global factory – architectures of transnational clothing production, Symposium Factory World: Architecture and Industrialization over Time and Space, Architecture Space and Society Centre, Birkbeck/University of London, October 30-31, 2019

Symposium Mapping the Global Factory. Architectures of Commodity Chains (> online video documentation), concluding event of the Project Transnational Production Spaces, Berlin, September 29, 2019

Anke Hagemann, Elke Beyer: Mapping the Architectures of Global Production, RGS-IBG Annual International Conference, London, August 30, 2019.

Elke Beyer, Lucas Elsner: Textile Enclaves and Soybean Trains. Providing infrastructures for global production in Ethiopia and Argentina, RGS-IBG Annual International Conference, London, August 29, 2019; Deutscher Kongress für Geographie, Kiel, September 27, 2019.

Elke Beyer, Lucas Elsner: Architectures of Circulation: Urban Infrastructures of Global Commodity Production, Research Seminar SoSe 2019

Anke Hagemann, Elke Beyer: Architectures and Hinterlands of Planetary Clothing Production, Workshop Planetary Urbanization and Architectural Research, University of Manchester, March 4, 2019.

Elke Beyer: Building the global factory. Mundane Architectures of Globalization, Lecture, Architectural History and Theory Seminar Series, February 12, Edinburgh School of Architecture

Elke Beyer, Lucas Elsner, Anke Hagemann, Philipp Misselwitz: Infrastructures for Global Production in Ethiopia and Argentina, Conference Colonial and Postcolonial Landscapes: Architectures, Cities, Territories, Lisbon, January 16-18, 2019.

Infrastructures and the built environment. The physical dimensions of global production networks, 3rd meeting of the DFG Scientific Network "The Spaces of Global Production" hosted by Transnational Production Spaces / Habitat Unit, Berlin, January 24-25, 2019, Evening lecture Christof Parnreiter


Anke Hagemann, Elke Beyer: Mundane Architectures of Globalization: Production Spaces of the Transnational Clothing Industry, Conference From Building to Continent: How Architecture makes Territories, Kent School of Architecture, Canterbury (UK), June 28-29, 2018.

Elke Beyer, Anke Hagemann: Placing the global clothing industry in Ethiopia: Production locations and their urban impact in the periphery of Addis Ababa, Conference Through Local Eyes, Addis Ababa, October 29-30, 2018.

Paper Session: Transnational Production Spaces. Integrating Global Production Networks and Urban Research, American Association of Geographers, Annual Meeting, New Orleans, April 2018.

Anke Hagemann: Relational geographies of production: Studying urban built environments through transnational commodity chains, American Association of Geographers, Annual Meeting,  New Orleans, April 2018.

Elke Beyer: Manufacturing Infrastructures: Developing Industry Parks for the global clothing industry in Ethiopia, American Association of Geographers, Annual Meeting, New Orleans, April 2018.



Elke Beyer: Cuts and Seams: Urban Effects of Transnational Clothing Production in South-East Bulgaria from the 1980s to the present, The Ins and Outs of Socialism: Visions and Experiences of Urban Change in the Second World, Center for Urban History of East Central Europe, Lviv, August 25-27, 2017.

Anke Hagemann: Spatial re-association: Researching urban built environments along transnational production processes, American Association of Geographers, Annual Meeting, Boston, April 2017. 

Transnational Production Spaces. Workshop, Habitat Unit, TU Berlin, February 2017.



Anke Hagemann: Where were my clothes made? Tracing the spaces of transnational clothing production in Istanbul, RGS-IBG Annual International Conference 2016, London, September 2016.

Anke Hagemann: Spatial effects of global production networks: urban upgrading and the relocation of industry in Turkey’s globalized clothing production, Global Production Networks and Social Upgrading: Labour and Beyond, Brown International Advanced Research Institute (Brown University) & Global Development Institute (University of Manchester), Manchester, May 2016.


Anke Hagemann

Elke Beyer

Ilkim Er, guest researcher (since October 2016)
Rucha Kelkar, intern/research assistant (March-October 2017)
Ayşe Merve Altınsoy, intern/research assistant (March-May 2017)

Room A 064/065
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