Founded in 1946, the Academy for Spatial Research and Planning (ARL ®) is a research institute for the spatial sciences performing service functions in both fundamental and applied areas of research. In terms of its organisational structure, the ARL is an interdisciplinary personal network with the task of bringing together competences within the spatial sciences. The principal function of the ARL is to be a forum to promote co-operation both between theory and practice and among regions. It is governed by a number of different ARL management organs, the ARL's central body for co-ordination and management being the ARL Headquarters. A member of the Leibniz Association, the ARL is a self-governing body under public law performing a role of supra-regional importance within Germany and of scientific value for the nation. It is funded jointly by the Federal and Land governments.
The ARL's role includes undertaking research and facilitating knowledge transfer in the field of spatial research and spatial development. As a neutral forum, it creates the framework for an interdisciplinary dialogue between theory and practice; it does this by stimulating, structuring, concentrating and promoting both basic and applied research, in most cases within interdisciplinary working groups (see the ARL Research Framework); the results of its work are made available to scholars, politicians and public administration, as well as to the general public, through ARL publications and events.