Scholarship Competition 2021

Planning the Future of Suburbia

Sustainable and attractive living concepts in small towns

Rising rents, less space, too many people: The attraction of big cities is starting to wear thin for millennials. More and more young people are moving to the suburbs for a quieter and cheaper way of life. This could be an age of suburban revival - but what will continue attracting younger generations to live in small towns into the future? And how can these suburban centers accommodate this new population in a smart, sustainable, and efficient manner? We invite students, trainees, and recent graduates to apply for a merit-based scholarship by answering the question: How can small towns encourage sustainable growth and attract younger generations? What measures would affect the modernization, attractiveness, and livability of suburban areas?

Dear applicants, the ZIEGERT scholarship has now ended. Congratulations to our winner, Julia Treichel from Munich, whose concept "Ein Net(t)zwerk für die Kleinstadt" ("A network for the small town") thoroughly impressed our jury. We would like to thank all participants for submitting the numerous, creative and often surprising essays and presentations.

Scholarship winners will receive:

€2,000 cash prize

The winner of the challenge will be presented with a €2,000 scholarship.

Exclusive interview

We will feature the scholarship recipient for an exclusive interview on our blog and social media channels.

Present to our expert jury

The chosen winner will have the opportunity to present his or her idea to our expert panel.

Moving away from the big city

Over the last 18 months, the world has seen a dramatic shift in how people live and work. Restaurants and cultural attractions closed, the corporate office was replaced by home-office, and meet-ups with friends and family became online-only. This pandemic-influenced shift to digitalization has led to many re-evaluating the necessity of living in big cities. With no need for a tedious commute, more people are deciding to leave busy city centers and relocate to surrounding suburbs, or moving back to their small hometowns. This prompts new questions about the attractiveness of small towns and suburban areas. With this influx of younger generations looking to escape the rising rents and lack of space in big cities, sustainable growth of smaller cities and suburban centers is becoming vital.

Maintaining suburban growth

Sustainable urban development is still an issue for many small towns across Germany. Challenges faced by city developers and planners alike include figuring out how to lower energy and resource consumption, efficiently use existing space, and develop a reliable infrastructure - in addition to providing a high quality of life and attractive spaces for city-dwellers used to the high life. How can suburbia thrive without inevitably damaging the allure that led young city-dwellers to move there to begin with? How can small towns be attractively designed for young generations in a modern and sustainable way?

How to apply

The Challenge

Scholarship applicants are tasked with answering the question: What measures would affect the modernization, attractiveness, and livability of suburban areas to encourage sustainable growth? Answers may highlight, for example, the chances and challenges related to energy-efficient home building and alternative building materials, housing affordability and new construction, sustainable infrastructure, design and attractiveness of public areas, or social issues.


You may choose to submit your answer in the form of an essay or a PowerPoint presentation. Your essay should count no less than 1,000 words. Your PowerPoint presentation should count between 10-15 slides, including images, designs (sketches or other creative formats) and text. Scholarship applications may be submitted in English or German.

Essay tips

If you choose to submit an essay, it should be based on this suggested structure: 1. Abstract: Summarize the problem and your resolution concisely. 2. Problem: Which problem are you trying to solve, and why is it important? 3. Solution: Outline your ideas and how they would play out in real life. 4. Validation: Which academic theses are supporting your idea(s)? 5. Optional: How could your idea(s) be funded?


All students currently enrolled at university, trainees currently enrolled in vocational training, and recent graduates who have graduated no earlier than 2020 are invited to partake in this scholarship competition. Please submit proof of your enrollment or graduation in your scholarship application, along with a quoted acknowledgment of our privacy statement (see Terms & Conditions below). The application should be one PDF email attachment and must include your age and email address.

Scholarship Timeline


Application Start

Applications may be submitted electronically from Monday, July 5, 2021.


Rolling Assessment

Essays and presentations will be assessed by our jury on an ongoing basis during the admission period.


Submissions deadline

All applications must be submitted no later than Monday, October 4, 2021, at noon.


Announcement of winner

The winner of the scholarship will be announced on Friday, October 8, 2021.

Application requirements

Essay of 1,000 words OR
Powerpoint presentation of 10-15 slides
All documents must be submitted electronically
Your name, age, and email address
Acknowledgement of our privacy statement, quoted or signed
Proof of enrollment, vocational training, or graduation (2020-21)

Meet the team

Prof. Dr. Marcus Menzl

is head of Urban Planning in the department of Civil Engineering, specialising in Sociology of the Built Environment.

Ina Schulze

is an expert in the written word as a senior texter.

Michel Jenny

is an architect with a focus on urban development.

Simon Lipinski

specializes in design as a Senior Art Director.

Monika Glaser

is a sustainable development academic with a focus on a conscious approach to the environment.

Frequently Asked Questions
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