Published 6 March 2024

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

The project was finished in 2023. Pleasurescapes was 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 brought together researchers with museum curators, stakeholders of cultural industries and NGOs. They created a travelling museum exhibition with accompanying catalogue and theatre production, and they 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.

In 2022, a special number of the Journal of Urban History was published in order to present both the concept of Pleasurescapes and empirical studies concerning a number of harbor cities.

Pleasurescapes on the Edge: Performing Modernity on Urban Waterfronts (1880-1960)


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