Urban restructuring (Stadtumbau) is to be seen within the frame of both the general tendencies of urban development in Europe and the manifold demographic changes which are already affecting physical structures and housing markets in the cities. Much is to be learned from the “forerunners” of this development – most prominent among them industrial and mining towns in the U.K. and, more recently, in eastern Germany. In the long run, however, these demographic changes will have severe consequences for entire neighbourhoods and housing markets in many European countries and not only in economically depressed regions. But urban restructuring faces the challenge of growth and shrinkage alike: On the one hand, land consumption and urban sprawl are on-going processes in the hinterland of the cities and towns, despite economic recession and overall population decrease. On the other hand, residential and commercial areas in the inner cities are abandoned, and “perforated” cities evolve. The density of inhabitants, amenities, uses and opportunities decrease – crucial preconditions of “urban life” (Urbanität) in a qualitative sense. Since it is these inner-city areas which form a significant physical and symbolic link between the centre and its outskirts, their abandonment will have consequences not only for the structure of the built, social and natural environments but also for the identity and the well-being of the urban dwellers. In the paper it will be argued, that a reintroduction of the concept of “reurbanisation” (which was casually in use during the 1980s) into urban research can be very fruitful in the context of simultaneous growth and shrinkage. This is mainly due to the fact that current urban and demographic research approaches can be integrated into one theoretical and methodological design. Reurbanisation is then used in a twofold sense: first of all, as an analytic concept for an understanding of processes leading to new uses of inner-city areas by different social groups. Secondly, it is understood normatively and meant to be a comprehensive, socially integrative strategy aimed at the improvement of the housing and living conditions of several age groups, household types, social strata and life styles in the inner city. Reurbanisation is therefore not identical with gentrification or regeneration which were either socially and demographically selective or developed within the conceptual frame of urban growth. Based on first results of two cross-national European projects on reurbanisation on the one hand and residential suburbanisation on the other hand , the paper will explore the situation of inner-city areas in a comparative perspective with respect to the built, social and natural environment. It will explore the attractiveness of these neighbourhoods for several groups of residents, not least with reference to the temptations of suburban housing.