Published 21 February 2023

Pleasurescapes - A HERA-project

Pleasurescapes - An international cooperation between the HafenCity University Hamburg, Erasmus University Rotterdam, Escola Universitària ERAM/University of Girona, and Stockholm University.

Port Cities’ Transnational Forces of Integration

Pleasurescapes is a humanities-led collaborative research project that explores the ways in which public places of pleasure in European port cities have unfolded social forces of integration in the past and present and thereby fostered traits of urban practices.

The project brings together researchers with museum curators, stakeholders of cultural industries and NGOs. We will create a travelling museum exhibition with accompanying catalogue and theatre production, and we will set up an open access database to make our research sustainable and increase its impact. Four cities and their pleasurescapes are of special interest for us and will be studied empirically:

  • Hamburg (DE),
  • Rotterdam (NL),
  • Barcelona (ES) and
  • Gothenburg (SE).

Where people have fun, encounter happens. Where encounters take place, change begins. Are pleasurescapes in port cities Europe’s true driving forces after all?

Public spaces of entertainment in European port cities, which we name “pleasurescapes”, mirror traits of European urbanization in an extraordinary way: They are transnational microcosms, representing conformity and rebellion at the same time. They are public zones of encounter and melting pot for divergent classes, cultures and religions. In studying the past and present of European port cities’ pleasurescapes, we gain insights into Europe’s cultural pluralism and its exchange of knowledge, material, technologies, and practices.

Despite their national differences, their pleasurescapes show intriguing transnational convergence – why and how exactly is the subject of our research.

Research Project, Pleasurescapes


Lead: Prof. Dr. Lisa Kosok
Partners: HafenCity Universität Hamburg, Erasmus University Rotterdam, Escola Universitària ERAM/University of Girona, Stockholm University
Funding: Humanities in the European Research Area (HERA)

Contact The Institute of Urban History


  • Heiko Droste