1. Playing for change: workshops for climate protection and sustainability in Karlsruhe

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    The complex tasks of sustainability and climate protection can be intimidating. This is where “Serious Gaming” comes in. Using the gamification approach unleashes creativity and makes finding innovative solutions playful and fun. We offer a simulation game for administrations and municipalities, which follows this approach, and we are going to introduce it to you in this blog article. Come and play with us on the 26th or 28th of March at the KIT Spring Days of Sustainability!

    What makes playing games so exciting? That we are not sure what comes next! The task of creating a more sustainable and climate friendly future includes a lot of uncertainty. However, feeling uncertain tends to block our creative capacities. The gaming format can dissolve these blocks and unleash our creativity and inspiration.

     “Serious Gaming” – solving serious challenges while playing

    Serious gaming is an approach that uses the creative potential of playing to address serious issues and co-create innovative solutions. Playing helps us to learn without even noticing it. This is why the element of playing is so relevant for a vital, sustainable society.

    In his seminal book “Homo Ludens”, the cultural historian Johan Huizinga pointed out wisely: human civilization has developed from and as a game and shall never quit doing so. Playing is the central activity in prosperous societies.

    Originally developed in the USA – now there is a version for Karlsruhe!

    The ”Serious Gaming”-workshop was developed in a cooperation with numerous partnerships between cities and universities in Germany, the United States and Mexico. We adapted the simulation game to the situation in Karlsruhe and developed it further. Recently, we played it under the project “Energy Transformation in Dialogue” with the team of Karlsruhe Climate and Energy Agency (KEK). The team had lots of fun and co-developed an idea they find so good that they are actually going to realize it. The next workshop is taking place together with the city in May when the Department of Environment is meeting the partners of the My Green City initiative.

    The workshop proceeds like this:

    Six to twelve participants sit at a table. The workshop starts by putting the global sustainable development goals (SDG’s) into local context. Which of the SDG’s are most relevant to Karlsruhe? Where do the participants see a need for action or have a personal motivation for change? From already realized best practice projects from other German and international cities, the participants choose examples that could also be realized in Karlsruhe. Based on these inspirations, one new idea is co-developed for Karlsruhe. In the course of this, the participants discuss which resources and actions are needed to realize the idea and which resources they could bring in themselves. Once the idea has taken shape, it is put to test with shock cards to see how resilient it is to changing conditions. What happens to the project at a century flooding? What effects do big employee strikes have on the project’s success? At the end of the workshop, the idea is reflected and if possible presented to the other tables. The workshop lasts about three to four hours, depending on the amount of participants.

    We invite you to join one of the workshops taking place at the KIT Spring Days of Sustainability – the workshop will be in English on the 26th of March and in German on the 28th of March. The main target audience are students, but auditors are welcome as well. You are an auditor and you want to participate only at this workshop? Write an email to

    You can find more information (in German) about the Spring Days here and about the registration here!

    The simulation game was adapted and is further developed under the international collaboration project “Building Sustainability Implementation Capacity in City Staff and Leadership (CapaCities)”. This project belongs to the “Global Consortium for Sustainability Outcomes” (GCSO), a global network that advances solutions to sustainability problems through research, development and capacity building by generating, testing, implementing and, ultimately, bringing to scale a wide range of solutions including technologies, policies, economic incentives, social change and cultural practices. Read more.


  2. The Future Space

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    Within the last weeks, the Future Space had been filled with life, once inaugurated by the team of District Future and Urban Transition Lab 131 as their office, venue for research, consulting, or events and as a meeting place in Karlsruhe’s Oststadt district. They will shape the Future Space together. The grand opening was scheduled for 13 June 2015.

    The official opening of the “Future Space for Sustainability and Science” is a major step for District Future and the Urban Transition Lab 131 which will remarkably and positively change the work of the scientific team and local stakeholders for a sustainable development of the district and transdisciplinary research. The meeting place in the middle of the project area Karlsruhe Oststadt allows an even closer cooperation of the scientific team and local stakeholders. During numerous conversations and events, citizens also repeatedly expressed their wish for a meeting place in the district to discuss the issues of the sustainable development of the Oststadt. The Future Space is therefore intended as such a meeting place in the Oststadt and will be ready from summer 2015 for an intensive and creative use by all actors and those who are interested in the District Future and the Urban Transition Lab 131. The aim of the Future Space is to establish a meeting place for the district, a venue for research, events, encounters, conferences, and a creative think tank for the sustainable development of the district. It provides a room for discussions on the future of Karlsruhe’s Oststadt and other European cities.
    Good to know
    From now on, the Future Space will be open on Tuesdays from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. and on Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Just drop by and come in! Please note: There is a summer break in August 2015.

    The next meeting of the District Future group of regulars will be held on Tuesday, 14 July, at 7 p.m. in the Future Room in Rintheimer Straße 46.

    Related links
    Blog article Opening! Future Space!
  3. Opening! Future Space!

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    Opening! Future Space! Bit by bit, the Future Space has been filled with life during the last weeks. It has been painted and furnished. Now it will be opened – on the occasion of the Baden-Württemberg Sustainability Days on Saturday, 13 June. The official opening will be framed by an active program with workshops and discussions. You are cordially invited.

    Invitation: Opening! Future Space!

    Invitation: Opening! Future Space!

    10:00 a.m. | Workshops: Build your own furniture & seed bombs
    1:30 p.m. | Official opening Musical introduction to open the doors
    2:00 p.m. | Welcome addresses
    Minister Theresia Bauer (MWK)
    KIT Head of Division Karl-Friedrich Ziegahn
    Mayor Frank Mentrup
    2:15 p.m. | Opening address on the “Future Space”
    Musical interlude
    2:45 p.m. | Join-in discussion “Sustainable Urban Development: From Knowledge to Action”
    3:30 p.m. | Conclusion of the program and continuation of the furniture workshop
    6:00 p.m. | End
    Permanently at the office
    There will be a poster exhibition in the Future Space related to the Urban Transition Lab 131 and the project activities of District Future – Urban Lab. In addition, a photo exhibition will document the development process of the District Future. Also the Karlsruhe School of Sustainability will be present at the opening with its “Interactive Photobox Sustainability”.
    Venue of the Opening Ceremony
    You can find the Future Space in Rintheimer Str. 46, 76131 Karlsruhe.
    On the Future Space
    The Future Space for Sustainability and Science is a joint project of District Future – Urban Lab and the Urban Transition Lab 131 which work together on transdisciplinary contributions to a sustainable district development in Karlsruhe’s Oststadt. The Future Space can be used as a meeting place, venue for exchange, and a shared place of work for scientists and stakeholders in the Oststadt for the joint elaboration of solutions for a forward-looking development of the district. It provides a room for discussions on the future of Karlsruhe’s Oststadt and other European cities.
  4. Exhibition ship presents District Future

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    From April to September 2015 the exhibition ship MS Wissenschaft will set sail. An exhibit of  “District Future – Urban Lab” is part of the exhibition “City of the Future” on board of the MS Wissenschaft.

    What is a city and how do cities develop? What are the perspectives for the city of the future? How do you shape a city? How can solutions for individual functions of a city be combined to form a coherent whole? These are the central questions explored in the exhibition “Zukunft Stadt!” (Future City). The exhibition will be presented in Germany and Austria under the auspices of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research from the 15 April to 17 September. The exhibit of the District Future project will present project activities to illustrate possible pathways for a comprehensive and sustainable development of an existing district. It features a selection of current activities in the project area Karlsruhe-Oststadt and the related research. The variety of the subjects ranges from a bicycle repair shop which integrates refugees into the neighborhood to façade greening for climate adaptation to proactive civic participation in research and development and also the new use and conversion of public spaces. One of the key issues is the sustainability assessment of individual activities and the overall development of the city district.

    The Science Year 2015 – City of the Future

    The Science Year 2015 “City of the future” addresses cities and their forward-looking development as one of society’s main challenges. The exhibition will present a number of projects of German research institutions and stop in approximately 40 German and Austrian cities. It is a participatory exhibition which is not only intended to impart the content interactively but also calls for contributions. Visitors can actively take part in the discourse on the future of cities by introducing their own ideas, plans, and concepts.

    From 15 to 19 July, the ship will tie up in Karlsruhe’s Rhine port and can be visited free of charge.


    Further information:

    Website of the MS Wissenschaft

    Website of the Science Year “City of the Future” of BMBF

  5. Baden-Württemberg funds “Urban Transition Lab” in Karlsruhe

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    The Ministry of Science, Research, and the Arts of the state of Baden-Württemberg will fund the “Reallabor 131 – KIT findet Stadt” (“Urban Transition Lab 131”) from 2015 onwards for a period of three years. The Urban Transition Lab 131 is embedded in the project “District Future—Urban Lab” to extend its research activities in cooperation with several other KIT departments and institutions.

    The overall objective of the urban transition lab is to establish a link in thinking and working on knowledge, innovation, and urban development in a transdisciplinary process. The KIT Center Humans and Technology was mainly responsible for the application of the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology for the Urban Transition Lab 131. Funding is expected to start in January 2015.

    Urban Transition Lab 131 in the District Future project

    The spectrum of Urban Transition Lab 131 topics ranges from livable mobility and circular economy, social environment and neighborhood, climate and energy to health and demographic development. The core of the project is to initiate and implement several projects for sustainable neighborhood development and support them with corresponding research activities. These projects will be defined and carried out in a cooperative and participatory way. The participation process BürgerForum Nachhaltige Oststadt | Zukunft aus Bürgerhand which is currently on its way offers the opportunity to generate ideas and bring together partners for these projects already. A sustainability science shop will be the focal point of the urban transition lab, serving as a communication center, a location for events and as a working space for project teams.

    What is an urban transition lab?

    An urban transition lab is a concept of transdisciplinary research. Within the context of a transition lab researchers step into societally meaningful and real change processes, e.g. the sustainable development of an urban quarter like Karlsruhe-Oststadt or the implementation of a new regional energy system.

    “Transition labs help to better understand and design societal change processes and to measure their impacts. They offer network and cooperation structures between universities and non-university research institutions as well as between the economy, politics, administration, and civil society stakeholders”, states the Ministry of Science, Research, and the Arts.

    Within the context of the current round of the program “Strengthening the contribution of science for a sustainable development” the state of Baden-Württemberg supports seven transition labs with a total budget of seven million Euros from 2015 on.

    Related Links

    Press release of the Ministry (German) 

    Website KIT Center Humans and Technology 

  6. Insights | September 2014

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    Insights is a format for short news. The District Future – Urban Lab team uses it in order to illustrate steps and procedures of the project work together with local stakeholders and the local people on the one hand and the scientific community on the other hand. It is published regularly and bimonthly on this website.

    The September issue deals with the current preparation and realization of the BürgerForum and the next ReparaturCafé. The dialog with key persons in Karlsruhe’s Oststadt gives us the opportunity to learn more about urban life in the district and introduce ourselves to local stakeholders. Further topics are:  the District Future’s group of regulars as well as the revising of the list of co-operating project groups on the District Future website.

    •             On the way towards the Oststadt’s future – Start of the BürgerForum!

    The District Future team is currently busy with the final preparations and the realization of the BürgerForum. All the people in the Oststadt, but also other citizens of Karlsruhe are cordially invited to participate in the “BürgerForum Sustainable Oststadt | Future in citizens’ hands”. The fact that this format comprises three different steps allows the participants to get to know each other properly and maintain a dialog over the weeks, to develop new ideas for a sustainable urban development and to receive information. Interested persons can now and until 10 October register for participation in the BürgerForum at We are looking forward to numerous participants and joint efforts to shape the future of the Oststadt!

    •             ReparaturCafé – what happens in the background

    District Future is right in the middle of the preparations for the next ReparaturCafé in Karlsruhe which will take place on 18 October 2014 between 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. at the children’s and youth club in the Oststadt. What is special this time: Between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. the ReparaturCafé opens its doors especially for children and youths. Several creative workshops are planned for them together with the volunteer repairers. People who would like to participate as repairer or donate a cake for the café are always very welcome. If you are interested, just send an e-mail to and the way: Another ReparaturCafé is planned in Karlsruhe’s Weststadt in cooperation with District Future. We are really delighted that sustainable ways of life are spreading beyond our district!

    •             In dialog with key persons in the Oststadt

    In order to learn more about Karlsruhe’s Oststadt and to introduce ourselves there, we have started a series of interviews which we have been conducting with key persons and institutions since fall 2013. These are in particular people and institutions who gained deep insight into urban life due to their long-standing commitment in the Oststadt and can also act as multipliers to reach a larger number of citizens. This includes above all the responsible bodies of social and educational institutions, churches and religious communities, business representatives, companies and craftspeople, multicultural organizations, sports and other clubs, research institutions, administrative authorities, political parties, infrastructural facilities, etc. Apart from the aim to reach our dialog partners and get a better knowledge of the area, these interviews are also part of our scientific evaluation of the sustainable development of the city and urban life to describe the current conditions in the Oststadt for subsequent analyses.

    •             Participating and networking in the District Future’s group of regulars

    Active participation is of great significance for the District Future. In order to get in personal contact with the Oststadt’s residents, District Future organizes bimonthly meetings of the District Future’s group of regulars. You can not only meet the project team there but also join existing project groups or find fellow campaigners for new ideas of sustainable urban development. Thanks to the commitment of many volunteers, this group has already provided very valuable impulses and opportunities for networking. All participants and also all newly interested people are cordially invited to the forthcoming meetings. Upcoming dates can be found here.

    •             Description of the District Future’s project groups

    District Future has already started networking with local project groups in the field of sustainable urban development. Also a number of work groups on various sustainability topics arose from District Future. Important co-operations were initiated during the different events, at the meetings of the group of regulars, in interviews and discussions and also as a result of the scientific work. To make them also publicly known, District Future is currently working on a description of the co-operating project groups for the project website. This information will be available soon.

  7. Start of the BürgerForum Sustainable Oststadt

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    The BürgerForum Sustainable Oststadt | Future in citizens’ hands will start on 11 October. You are cordially invited to participate.

    The objective of the BürgerForum Sustainable Oststadt | Future in citizens’ hands is the active shaping of the future development of Karlsruhe’s Oststadt together with its citizens. We are aiming at a high quality of life for everyone in the district – for those who live there, those who work there, and those who visit the Oststadt. They are invited to develop ideas together with us as well as experts from science and practice. Always our focus: The world that surrounds us, the world we are part of, and the world to come.

    In line with the motto “Think globally – act locally, together for a livable future”, the United Nations have been promoting efforts for a sustainable development all over the world since the 1990s. District Future joins this challenge and works on a local level in Karlsruhe’s Oststadt. For District Future, a development is sustainable if it meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. What can we do to make the Oststadt a sustainable living environment for all generations and people with different lifestyles, earning capacities, and cultural backgrounds? Here we need your support. What do you envisage? What are your needs? What are your ideas?

    Play a part in the BürgerForum! Discuss the following topics with other citizens:

    • Living in the district
    • Organizing everyday mobility
    • Working and doing business in a responsible way
    • New ideas about energy – Protecting the climate
    • Changing urban society – Improving the quality of life

    The aim of the BürgerForum is that Karlsruhe’s citizens work out recommendations for actions for societally relevant topics of sustainable development in the district which they can realize afterwards autonomously. The BürgerForum Sustainable Oststadt | Future in citizens’ hands is realized by the project District Future – Urban Lab in cooperation with the city of Karlsruhe and Bertelsmann Stiftung. This type of civic participation was jointly developed by Bertelsmann Stiftung and Hans Nixdorf Stiftung. This short video explains how it works.

    For further informations about the topics and general informations about the BürgerForum click here.

    Accordingly the BürgerForum Sustainable Oststadt | Future in citizens’ hands will take place in three steps. It will start with a kick-off workshop on Saturday, 11 October 2014 between 10 am and 4.30 pm. Up to 200 citizens will participate. You could be one of them.

    This will be followed by an online workshop from 11 October until 7 November 2014 with an unlimited number of participants. In this phase, the ideas of the kick-off workshop will be developed further.

    On Friday, 21 November from 18  to 21 pm we will hold a final workshop to present the results to the public in the vestry of St. Bernhard.

    If you would like to participate in the BürgerForm Sustainable Oststadt | Future in citizens’ hands, previous registration is necessary. Registration is possible from now on. Please visit the website of the BürgerForum: We recommend early registration since the number of participants for the kick-off workshop on 11 October is limited to 200 people.

    However, you can still participate in both the online and the final workshop if you were not able to attend the kick-off event. Please also register for these events at the website

    For additional information or in case of further questions, please do not hesitate to contact us by e-mail or telephone:


    • +49 721 – 608 24241, on Tuesdays between 1 and 3 pm, on Thursdays between 10 am and noon.

    Join us in shaping the Oststadt’s future. We are looking forward to you!

  8. Insights | July & August 2014

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    Here it is: the first issue of the new news format Insights. We look back on the Baden-Württemberg Sustainability Days 2014. Further topics of the first Insights are, among others: District Future at the city’s anniversary in 2015 and at the Oststadt street festival, the beginning of the preparations for the BürgerForum, accompanying research in the field of civic participation, and the conceptual design of an online platform for sustainable consumption. You are cordially invited to gain insight into our project work.

    • We were there: Baden-Württemberg Sustainability Days 2014

    The Baden-Württemberg Sustainability Days were held on 12 July 2014. District Future participated in the days of action for the second time to set an example for sustainability with three different actions in Karlsruhe’s Oststadt. Together with the volunteers of the District Future’s group of regulars, the idea of an open air living room was developed in the run-up to the event. This intervention turned the Oststadt into a colorful and vibrant living room. The ReparaturCafé, which has by now become a regular event, went on a journey this time. People were sewing, fixing things and pottering around with a lot of commitment and enthusiasm at Jubez in Karlsruhe’s city center. An invitation for an open air meeting of the group of regulars topped off the active day with conversations and good food – this time outdoors in Humboldtstraße. In the aftermath, the team is now evaluating the event, sifting photos, and preparing documentations which will soon be published on this website. We would like to thank all of those who took part in the organization – and preparation – of this day.

    •  Planning for Karlsruhe’s 300th anniversary in 2015

    The city of Karlsruhe started with the preparations for its 300th anniversary in 2015. District Future has been asked to organize two or three three-hour sessions at the citizens’ pavilion, the centerpiece of the event. Of course we are glad to accept this offer, so we are currently developing and preparing suitable topics and formats.

    • District Future at the Oststadt street festival

    On 2 and 3 August a street festival took place in Karlsruhe’s Oststadt, where District Future was represented with a stand. We collected ideas how this stand could be designed and which aspects of our works should be presented. We showed an overview of our activities in the year 2014 and also gave associated work groups the opportunity to present themselves.

    • BürgerForum is in preparation

    A prominent subject of District Future’s current project work is the content-related design and organization of the BürgerForum, a citizens’ forum in and for Karlsruhe’s Oststadt. BürgerForum is a format of civic participation over several weeks with phases of attendance and online participation which was developed by Bertelsmann Stiftung. It will be held in the fall of 2014 as a cooperation between the city of Karlsruhe and District Future for Karlsruhe’s Oststadt. Similar to the activities during the town hall meeting “Perspectives for the Oststadt – Designing the District Future” which took place in February of this year, the BürgerForum shall give citizens the opportunity to develop – this time more detailed – issue-specific ideas for a sustainable city life. The ideas shall then be implemented by the citizens themselves. Currently we are negotiating with the city administration the exact objective, the title, and the topics to be approached.

    •  Accompanying research on civic participation

    Since the ReparaturCafé became firmly establish in Karlsruhe now, the project’s scientific accompanying research started at the third ReparaturCafé. Together with colleagues from KIT we compiled a questionnaire which could be completed by the participants. The responses will now be analyzed. We would like to take the opportunity to thank all of those who took the time to answer the questions.

    •  Follow-up to Sustainability 2014

    In cooperation with the transatlantic research initiative “Forum on Sustainable Technological Development in a Globalizing World”, the Institute for Technology Assessment and Systems Analysis (ITAS) and the KIT Focus Humans and Technology, District Future organized the international conference Sustainability 2014: Future Urban Development at Different Scales in Karlsruhe in May 2014. We are currently working on the follow-up to this conference. This includes writing documentations and articles for scientific journals as well as compiling a book comprising all conference contributions. This will be published at the end of 2014. A retrospective view of the conference can already be found at this website.

    • Conference participation

    With participation in national and international conferences District Future takes the continued opportunity to introduce the concept of the project and the current status of developments and to obtain professional opinions. Conferences also offer a good opportunity for networking and inspiration by other works in the field of sustainable development of cities and districts as well as sustainability transformation. District Future was presented at the symposium “City and Region – Living Labs of Resilience-oriented Transformation” in Kassel at the beginning of July. In addition, contributions to the “4th International Conference on Degrowth for Ecological Sustainability and Social Equity” in Leipzig in September and the Winterthur Urban Forum “Cities of the Future. Cities of Vicinity” in November are planned.

    •  Conceptual design of a web platform for sustainable consumption

    In the context of his bachelor thesis at the Department of Industrial Engineering and in co-operation with District Future, Hauke Wagner is working on the conceptual design of an online platform for sustainable consumption in the District Future. The aim is to work out how sustainable economic activities in the district can be specifically promoted and brought into the citizens’ everyday life within the District Future. In order to make the topic accessible to the public and allow for broad participation, the focus was put on a guide to sustainable consumption. It shall give orientation for the most important purchase decisions regarding offers oriented towards sustainability.

    The next issue of Insights will be published on Tuesday, 23 September 2014.

  9. Launch of new news format “Insights”

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    With the new news format “Insights”, the team of District Future – Urban Lab illuminates the workflow within the project work with local actors and the local population in Karlsruhe Oststadt. Insights is a compilation of news briefs. It will be published on a bi-monthly basis – for the first time in mid-July and initially only online – and report about the background and latest developments in District Future.

    Einblicke neuneu

    In order to promote sustainable urban living in the district of Oststadt, the District Future team designs, plans, organizes, networks, presents, and initializes, closely working together with different actors and civic groups. Much has already happened in the project area. Other things are starting to take shape.

    The news format Insights will periodically give an up-to-date picture of what is happening or being planned in order to provide starting points for committed and interested people and to involve them in the long-term development of the district towards sustainability. Many individual steps, dialogues, commitment, negotiations, and decisions are necessary both for the overall development and for individual project activities within District Future.

    Insights will be given into ideas in progress, trains of thought, and current work processes. We want to show you what moves us and what we want to achieve together with you. Insights | July & August 2014 will first be published on Monday 11 August 2014 on this website.

  10. Open air living room

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    Recovering from everday stress and routine, talking to your neighbor and experiencing the life on the doorstep: bring life to public spaces with a living room suit in front of your home. Make it individual – have a break! The intervention takes place on the street and squares in the neigborhood Oststadt in Karlsruhe. It is an activity of the District Future project within the framework of the sustainability days 2014 of the federal state of Baden-Würrtemberg.

    Your open air living room

    The District Future project cordially invites all citizen of the Oststadt neigborhood in Karlsruhe and of course everyone else interested in participating to arrange an open air living room (“Freiluftwohnzimmer”) in public space on July 12th 2014. Bring chairs and tables, flowers and cake, and other things to design a living room suit in front of your house. Talk to your neigbors and passersby. Invite them to you open air living room and get them to know. Take a break from everyday life.

    Where and when? 

    The interverntion takes place on July 12th 2014 and starts at 2 pm right on your doorstep in the streets and on the squares of the Oststadt neighborhood in Karlsruhe. This afternoon, the District Future team will be cycling around in order to visit you. The team brings coloured bows free of charge to make your living room suit more visible and get more attention. Alternatively,  you can pick up a bow at Café GOLD (Ludwig-Wilhelm-Straße 12, 76131 Karlsruhe) as of now.

    Map your open air living room

    You can map your open air living room in the overview map following. This makes sure that those interested in visiting you intervention can find it easily.

    Please note

    Take care of others on the streets, e.g. pedestrians and families with buggies. Leave the place of your open air living room in the same state as you found it when you started.

    Further information

    Flyer  (German)

    Facebook Event (German)

    Nachhaltig handeln – the offiziel website of the N!Tage Baden-Württemberg (German)

    Nachhaltigkeitstage Baden-Württemberg beim KIT Zukunftscampus (German)

  11. European City – Pathways towards Sustainability

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    Today, European cities more than ever appear in a variety of forms and structural transformations: open city, shrinking city, Teletopia, city of short distances, neoliberal city – this list could go on and on. Against the background of climate change, shortage of resources, increasing burden of public debt, demographic change, social inequality and many other current challenges, all the different urban forms have one thing in common: the need to advance their sustainable development. Cities play an important role in the change of society as a whole towards a sustainable way of life.

    Urban attractiveness

    After decades of suburbanization, resource-hogging urban sprawl, urban research has observed a growing trend in European cities since the 1990s. Even though suburbia’s growth is continuing at reduced speed, core cities experience an increase in population and jobs and a new form of vitality again. Urban population appreciates the new urban attractiveness: cultural events, short distances, good medical care, attractive jobs and a vivid public life. Urbanity is becoming a lifestyle.

    The city is currently reinventing itself. It is growing again, becoming denser. We have to take advantage of this process since it bears great potential for the sustainable development of European cities. At the same time, we should focus on the following central questions: How can we create and secure affordable housing space for everyone? Which strategies and instruments can stop the displacement of the poor to the urban fringe? How can we guarantee the equal distribution of the remaining inner-city open spaces, how can we face the problematic aspects of redensification?

    Cities as places of technological and social innovations                

    Cities with their distinct infrastructure, their extensive cultural, social and scientific offers and networks are a melting pot of innovations. They are creative experimental spaces for future-oriented urban ways of life. And not least, as places of far-reaching economic and political decisions, cities provide optimal preconditions to attend to the challenges of sustainable development.

    Technological innovations, for example regarding e-mobility, Ambient Assisted Living (assistance systems for an autonomous life for older people), Smart City or energy-efficient and resource-saving ways of construction, are often of great importance in combination with sustainable urban development. But sustainable development needs more than just new technologies. They rather have to be embedded in societal change, have to be accompanied by a change in attitude and the rejection of the technocratic imperative “higher, faster, further, more”. It is necessary to discover, invent and try out new qualities of life.

    The civic city

    Today, the wish of civil society to participate in the design of the city can be seen and felt everywhere. Citizens are more and more taking matters into their own hands, they want to have a say in decisions concerning their city. Examples like Stuttgart 21 and the recent referendum on the future of the so-called “Tempelhofer Feld” in Berlin which was initiated by citizens proof this, just as the large number of well-organized groups of citizens. This is a kind of participation which is based on the distrust against established governmental institutions and decision-making processes which have to face reduced governance options and limited financial resources.

    The active involvement of the general public does not only improve the acceptance of development projects, but is also part of a nascent culture of sustainability. However, this participation must not depend on the level of education or cultural and social competences.

    Local context

    In the end, the way towards the sustainable development of European cities can only be a contextual one which takes account of local situations, problems and developments. Apart from global trends of the society as a whole, also specific local factors, the historic heritage, urbanistic models and different interests of urban actors influence these development processes. Urban spaces always reflect local circumstances and points of view typical of the time.

    Authors: Alexandra Quint & Oliver Parodi

  12. District Future starts in Karlsruhe Oststadt

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    It’s official now: The District Future project starts in the Oststadt of Karlsruhe. In the coming years, the existing district will be developed further towards sustainability in social, ecological, economic, and cultural terms. Together with the population, city administration, politics, industry, persons engaged in the cultural sector, and other actors of the urban society, old and new ideas as well as societal and technical innovations will be tried out in a number of projects. A series of kickoff events started in November 2013.


    “The decisive feature of the District Future project is the active participation of the public in the project area,” says project leader Dr. Oliver Parodi of ITAS. “Sustainability affects everybody and, ultimately, can succeed only in a common effort. Citizens, groups, artists and scientists, companies and associations: We warmly welcome everybody who is willing to contribute to a sustainable development of the city’s Oststadt and seeks to contact us.” The objective is to generate impulses in order to advance the sustainability development of the Oststadt in a long-term and cautious process. The intention is to establish structures which support to continue this development even after the official end of the project term.

    “Karlsruhe’s Oststadt offers ideal preconditions for this project: The urban district enjoys a great variety in socio-cultural, functional and architectural respects, a traditional dense network of local stakeholders, open-mindedness of the population, and proximity to the KIT, all of which constitutes an excellent breeding ground for new, sustainable urban development,” Parodi explains. This was a prerequisite for the District Future project to gain model character – for other districts of Karlsruhe, but also for other, especially European, cities. The project area was chosen on the basis of a thorough scientific analysis.

    The District Future project is also associated with the wish to bring science closer to the people – and vice versa. In Feburary 2014, there will a citizen meeting. Citizens then will have the opportunity to enter into an active dialog about future urban development and to address own ideas and activities for the Oststadt.
    2014 also will be the year to start first project activities in the project area. These could be activities in climate protection, recycle economy, health, education, energy supply, and projects, such as autonomous living for the elderly, neighborhood kitchens, an organic and regional evening market for the working population, a science shop, fast lanes for bikers, multi-generation houses, sidewalks and road pavements equipped with sensors, a center for subsequent use of empty urban space, street libraries. Specific projects could also be located in the urban space adjacent to the Oststadt.

    Information to the Citizens

    In recent months, some preliminary talks have been arranged with local stakeholders from industry, society, culture, and sports. Others will follow. On Tuesday, November 26, 2013, the approximately 7000 households in the project area received an information letter explaining the project and presenting the kickoff events in the winter of 2013 and the spring of 2014. The dialogue between the project team and the public is in the focus of all these events.

    Kickoff Events Launching the “District Future” Project:

    • RepairCafé

    Saturday, November 30, 2013, 4 – 8 p.m.
    Kinder- und Jugendhaus (Rintheimerstr. 47, 76131 Karlsruhe)

    This is an active contribution to resource conservation and against throwing away objects still fit for use: At the RepairCafé, participants can repair damaged household objects, such as small furniture items, bicycles and radios, or get advice on how to do the job. The team responsible for the District Future is supported by these projects: FabLab Karlsruhe, Transition Town Karlsruhe – Karlsruhe im Wandel, KonsumGlobal Karlsruhe, Gemeinwohl Ökonomie Karlsruhe, and many other groups committed to these endeavors.

    • District Future on Its Way!

    Wednesday, December 18, 2013, 12 noon – 6 p.m.

    Streets and squares in Karlsruhe Oststadt, including Tulla-Schule, Karl-Wilhelm-Platz, Alter Schlachthof

    The District Future Mobile can be found in the streets and squares of the Karlsruhe Oststadt: The District Future team invites people to exchange ideas about the sustainable development of Karlsruhe’s Oststadt. The Mobile can be found at the Tulla-Schule, the Karl-Wilhelm-Platz, and on the premises of the old slaughterhouse (Alter Schlachthof), among other places.

    • Citizen Meeting: Oststadt Perspective – Designing the District Future

    Sunday, February 9, 2014 I 12 noon – 7 p.m.

    Lichthof, BGV Versicherung, Durlacher Allee 56, 76131 Karlsruhe

    This is where dialog comes in: The District Future team presents the project and looks forward to your questions, criticism, and suggestions. There will be workshops for participants to introduce their ideas about sustainable urban life. Possible schemes for cooperation will be explored in an offer-request type of market. A cultural program will accompany the citizen meeting.

    • Debate: “Which kind of mobility do we need for the Oststadt’s future?

    Thursday, March 20, 2014, 6 – 8 p.m.

    alina café, Alter Schlachthof 39, 76131 Karlsruhe

    This is an entertaining event for exchanging perspectives and visions, from scientific to personal about future urban mobility, among invited participants and committed persons from the region.

    Further information

    Find pictures of the RepairCafé in the gallery.

    The program of the Citizen Meeting: Oststadt Perspective – Designing the District Future can be found here (German).



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