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 Basics of Sustainable Travel

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    Summer is coming soon and we have to come up with holiday planning! Sightseeing in London for a weekend, enjoying the sun on short holidays in Mallorca or should it rather be Sydney with the family for two weeks? But wait – are there perhaps more sustainable options?

    Nearby or far away – active or relaxed – beach, mountains or party mile, nowadays our range of options is almost endless. We can fly within a very short time from one side of the globe to the other; low-cost airlines make that more and more affordable. Great, right?

    Unfortunately tourism and unlimited mobility have also their dark sides. Emissions, environmental pollution, poverty and resource conflicts – air traffic is responsible for up to 10% of climate change. Unspoilt alpine landscapes vanish in consequence of mass tourism; cruise ships release vast amounts of harmful substances into the oceans. But how can we do better? How is conscious, environmentally friendly travel possible? In the following passages you will find crucial tips, the basics of sustainable travel so to say!

    Stay on the ground

    Most emissions arise on the outward and return journeys. As soon as you stay on the ground with your means of transport, the greenhouse-gas emissions decrease to ¼ compared to flying. Obviously, the longer the distance, the more difficult it gets not to fly; but nearby destinations within Europe usually can be reached easily by car, or even better by bus or train. However, there is one exception: cruise ships – even though they do not fly, their impact on the environment is enormous.

    After your arrival, public transport and bicycle should be your first choice as well. By travelling with public transport you will also get to know the country and the everyday life of locals much better.

    “Why seek far afield when the good is close by?” Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

    Mountains, forests, lakes, sea, castles, palaces and gorgeous old towns – Germany and Europe have so much more to offer than most of us think. Too often, we know the country we live in and the neighbouring countries much less than far off travel destinations. There is something going wrong, isn’t it? How about outdoor holidays in Thuringia? Hiking and mountain biking in beautiful forests, swimming in lakes surrounded by mountains and a visit of the magical dripstone cave in Saalfeld. The Elbe Sandstone Mountain, which is one of Germany´s most beautiful natural wonders, also receives too little consideration. More ideas on underestimated travel destinations within Germany you can find here.

    If, nevertheless, you decide to travel to a destination further away, distance and travel duration should fit together. Flying to another continent should be worth it. The trip to the States can by all means last some weeks or months so that you can fully enjoy it.

    Respect nature

    While considering which activities to choose, options should be critically examined. Are fun sports in fragile landscapes really necessary? Is the activity reasonable for this climate and landscape? Does the activity fit with the culture of that particular country? Playing golf in the desert and jet skiing through mangrove forests is not a good idea for sure.

    That you should not leave waste in the landscape as a tourist (just like at home) goes without saying. If you want to go a step further, buy a water filter for camping. In many countries you cannot drink tab water like in Germany; that is why a water filter is a solution not to rely on buying plastic bottles.

    Water is scarce?

    As a tourist you might easily enter into resource conflicts with locals. Where resources are rare already, locals can suffer due to the consumption of, for example, fresh water by the powerful tourist industry. Taking long showers and having your towels and linen washed every day are not appropriate then. When it comes to housing, the interests of tourists and locals might be contradictory as well. By renting holiday apartments through online platforms, landlords can potentially earn more money than by renting them permanently, which in some areas has led to former tenants being driven away and affordable housing becoming scarce. But not everything is negative – tourism can bring advantages for the host country as well. It can be an important source of income if we actively counteract the disadvantages of tourism. So how can we manage to visit a country in a way that makes the locals benefit and at the same time allows us to have an amazing holiday with great experiences?

    Local offers instead of all-inclusive

    Booking the whole trip in an all-round carefree package is easy, but often boring and the ones who benefit from it are usually large providers instead of locals. To simplify the decision for the conscious traveler, attempts are made to label accommodations and offers as ecological and fair. So rather than choosing the next best hotel chain, try to find private hotels and hostels, which have these labels. Often you can find much more country-specific aspects in small accommodations and it may happen that you get insider tips from the owners about where to have dinner. Apropos Dinner: Try country- or region-specific food and enjoy eating regional food in small local restaurants.

    However, exceptions confirm the rule. Not everything that is traditional can be recommended and helps the locals and the environment. For example, you should not enjoy your holidays on the back of elephants. If you would like to discover more about these fascinating animals, you can spend time with them in a nature conservation center.

    You would like to know more?

    Phew… these were quite a lot of aspects to consider. The good news is that a critical view at the existing offers can already help. If you are still not fed up and would like to increase your knowledge in some points, check out The platform brings light into the jungle of providers and information.

    If you are particularly interested into the topic of mobility and would like to use more sustainable transportation in your everyday life and in your holidays, have a look at the booklet „Nachhaltig bewegen und reisen“ of the Baden-Württemberg sustainability strategy. You can download it here for free (it is only available in German).

    If you feel like discovering your hometown first, we can recommend stattreisen to you. You can also find a group in Karlsruhe with diverse offers.

    Wherever your next journey will go to – we wish you a lot of fun and great experiences!


  3. Planet calling SOS! Der Planet ruft SOS! Gezegenimizden acil yardım çağrısı!

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    How to communicate the dimensions of environmental problems and the necessity for sustainable development? And how to do it in a way, everybody will understand – regardless which country they come from and what language they speak? From this idea developed the caricature exhibition „Planet calling SOS“, which will be presented at our Zukunftsraum in November and December.

    A picture is worth a thousand words. Whether it is a painting in a museum, graffiti on the wall or a photograph in a magazine, you can often understand the message without words. Pictures have a strong effect – and that’s exactly what the exhibition „Planet calling SOS“ is going for:

    Our planet needs help! We need to work together in order to protect the environment, on which our livelihood depends!

    That’s why INTEGRA Filder e.V. and the Turkish-English-German satire magazine Don Quichotte e.V. held the 1. International Caricature Competition with the topic “UN-Agenda 2030”. Participation was high: over 1000 caricatures were submitted from more than 60 countries. An international jury selected the 50 most expressive pictures are now on exhibition in different locations throughout Baden-Württemberg.



    With the help of the artists’ expressive pictures, the exhibition aims to raise awareness in our whole society – people with or without immigration background – and initiate a dialogue about sustainable development. Everyone should be aware that sustainability is important – and that we need it right now!

    A different kind of immigrant organisation

    INTEGRA refers to itself as a “somewhat different immigrant organisation”. Diversity and equal opportunities for everyone are their main goals, for which they work in education and with youth organisations. The basis of their work is in intercultural and global pedagogy, multilingualism and the criticisms of racism. Experiences of immigration and the immigration background of their members are considered a resource and a strength. Immigrants are encouraged to participate, for example as disseminators.


    Collaboration of different nationalities – this is how an exhibition arises out of some pictures!

    Young people with and without immigration background prepared the exhibition together and develop didactical materials for the travelling exhibition though Baden-Württemberg. Young people with good German skills support young refugees, strengthening their participation in the project. Erdoğan Karayel, caricaturist and editor of the newspaper Don Quichotte, is the artistic brain of the project. With methods of informal learning he conducts drawing workshops with the participating youngsters.

    Global challenges require global goals!

    The exhibition also shows – the topic concerns people around the world. The chosen pictures deal with the 17 UN goals of sustainable development – among those are „Climate Action“, „Responsible Production and Consumption“ and „Peace, Justice and strong institutions“. The goals were adopted in 2016 under the header „Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”.

    27 caricatures will be shown at the Future-Room (Zukunftsraum, Rintheimer Straße 46) from October 30th until December 11th 2018. The exhibition can be visited during regular opening hours (Tuesday from 2pm to 6pm & Thursday 9am to 6pm) and additionally on the two Sundays, November 11th and 25th from 3pm to 6 pm. October 30th at 3pm we open the exhibition with a vernissage.

    Come by and get an idea of the situation on our planet!

    Here you can find some additional information about the youth project “Planet calling SOS” (Link:


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    A new project starts in summer 2018, which will go along with us in the next years. In this article you will get to know what it is about, what you can expect and how you can bring forward your own ideas.

    Storage technologies, renewable energies and joint energy grids – energy systems become more complex in future. The electricity in the socket doesn’t have to come from a power plant anymore. Do we all become so called prosumers, who produce electricity themselves and live in smart homes?

    The energy transition is coming, but the changes give rise to several questions. This huge and ambitious project can’t be realized without public understanding and involvement. Everyone has to be informed about it in order that we can pull together. This is why an exchange of knowledge about the energy transition with contribution of district future will be started.

    As a result of the experience we gained in the real-world labs district future and real-world lab 131 during the last years, we were able to acquire this new project!

    Welcome Energy Transformation in Dialogue!

    First this new project (called “energy dialogue” in short) becomes a part of district future; later it will be a mainstay for the Karlsruhe Transformation Centre for Sustainable Futures and Cultural Change (KAT), which we described here already. The funding for energy dialogue is guaranteed for 30 months. After 2 years the project’s success is investigated and the time period will – hopefully – be extended to 4 years.

    The aim of the project is clear: We want to make the transformation of the German energy system intelligible to all in a new way and create new possibilities for participation at the same time. Therefore we will organise this dialogue, provide information and bring different actors together.

    So far, so good, but how does that work in concrete terms?

    It is not yet set in stone, but you can already look forward to plenty of videos with information and explanations, a tour about sustainable energy, a handful of scenario workshops, some transdisciplinary and transformative project seminars, real-world experiments and one citizen’s forum on sustainable energy. We don’t want a one-way communication. We want to impart knowledge, but on the same time gather your ideas and bring them in the scientific world.

    One workshop could be for example for low-income households, where we get to know your expectations and fears related to the energy transition and work out suggestions for improvement together.

    Different activities – different target groups!

    With this project we extent our target group to the whole city of Karlsruhe and beyond. Some parts can be used in the whole German-speaking world. Nevertheless some activities will still take place in Karlsruhe and the eastern town.

    The target group is as diverse as the activities. The different subprojects can address both the public and specific groups of players, for example representatives of the energy industry, players of the civil society or consumers’ associations, as well as teachers, energy advisors, students, early adopters, and so on.

    Do district future and the future space stay?

    Does that mean we realigned and are not present in the district anymore? No, don’t worry. As described above – the project energy dialogue becomes a part of district future now and builds a mainstay of KAT from 2020 on. Like that it will provide us even more opportunities to encourage a sustainable development and die energy transition together with you, the citizens of the eastern town. The future space will also be available as is usual for group meetings, events and communication.

    When does it start?

    The planning and preparation for the variety of activities start now. Next year, in 2019, several plans will be realised. Until then you need to be patient, but we will keep you informed!

    You can participate!

    Do you have an idea for a project or an activity, which we should not forget? It doesn’t matter, if you are a single person or want to get involved with your group – form the energy dialogue with us together! If you are interested, contact

    We look forward to an interesting time with you and energy dialogue!

  5. Following the traces of the Urban Transition Lab 131 – Part IV Energy

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    We have come to the last part of our blog series about the Urban Transition Lab 131. The real world lab project Urban Transition Lab 131 was launched under the umbrella of the framework project District Future – Urban Lab. Since 2015 when the District Future was launched, scientists and citizens have the possibility to work together to develop and test measures for a (more) sustainable urban development in the Karlsruhe district Oststadt. With this blog series we want to think back over the activities and experiences of the Urban Transition Lab’s four projects.

    An article by Vanessa Kügler & Volker Stelzer. Translation by Sophie Dauenhauer

    In the previous articles we already presented the topics sustainable consumption, mobility and social affairs and spaces. Finally, we will talk about the exciting and current topic energy.

    Turning on the lights in the evening and putting the shopping into the fridge, switching on the heating in winter or having the possibility of a hot bath at any time –  the availability of electricity, heat, light and water is an important element of our everyday lives and fundamental for the functionality of our cities. Energy is one of the most important resources that has two major disadvantages: its availability is not infinite, and the generation implies a lot of consequences for our planet. These are the reasons why the consumption and use of energy have become a much-discussed topic in politics, economy as well as in society and science.

    “Cities are resource-hungry and produce too much CO2. We can change this: by using innovative technologies and renewable energies and trying out a new way of life that works without the excessive waste of goods and resources.”

    (Goal of the key topic Urban energy landscapes)

    Producing and using energy locally

    In keeping with the motto “New ideas about energy”, participants of the BürgerForum (citizen’s forum) “Sustainable Oststadt – Future in citizens’ hands” collected proposals for energy saving measures in the Oststadt. Ideas like optimized heating systems with renewable heating and regenerative electricity, energy autarky of residential blocks or an energy consultancy were contributed during the forum. It quickly became clear that, in order to coordinate such measures, a comprehensive energy concept for the Oststadt is needed. This multi-level concept considers the building and ownership structures as well as the patterns of use, and at the same time it demonstrates concrete energy saving and refitting measures for every individual building.

    An expert group of scientists from different institutes of the KIT (ITAS, IIP, EIFER, fbta) got together in the R131-project “Energiekonzept” (energy concept) to further develop the ideas from the citizens’ forum and to design and implement the energy concept approach. Moreover, the project cooperated with the city of Karlsruhe, the Karlsruhe energy and climate protection agency (KEK), Haus & Grund Karlsruhe, and involved lectures and seminars.  Now it was time to use these contacts and to start implementing the ideas from the citizens’ forum.

    Data and more data  but never losing sight of the building stock!

    In view of existing urban quarters that have grown over decades, like the Oststadt in Karlsruhe, it is important to take a closer look at the old building stock’s state of repair and the energetic state because:

    • The building stock is responsible for about 50% of the material use and the energy consumption
    • The heat supply in buildings causes up to 30% of the direct greenhouse gas emissions in Germany
    • Space heating makes up 70% of the energy consumption in residential buildings.

    The Urban Transition Lab-project “energy concept” focused following questions:

    • How much energy is consumed by the buildings in the Oststadt?
    • What are the possibilities for reducing the consumption of non-renewably generated energy?
    • Where does potential for renewable energy exist and how can we use it?

    To answer these questions, it was necessary to collect information about the individual buildings and their demand and consumption of energy. In a word: data – a lot of it. The energetic condition of the building is influenced by several factors: age of the building, type of use, floors, form, building space and capacity as well as the material that was used in the building (e.g. concrete, bricks, timber, clay or roof tiles) are playing an important role. Information about all these aspects had to be collected before they were entered in a database and got analyzed.

    Important contributions to this complete survey were made by the seminar “energy efficiency in the building stock of Karlsruhe Oststadt”, which took place at the Institute for Industrial Production (IIP) in the winter term 2015/16. The students of the seminar were responsible for data acquisition in the Oststadt, completed the city’s previous data basis about the building stock in the quarter and calculated the energy balance for different building types.

    Based on the city of Karlsruhe’s 3D database, the data was used to develop a detailed 3D building model of the Oststadt’s existing building structure that contains spatial information about more than 2600 buildings. This model enables for example to calculate the energy demand of a building, the material that was used for building it and even precise key figures like the water demand.

    Starting small- Owners and Users as key factors

    Not only the buildings but also the ownership structures were taken into consideration, because their motivation for using renewable energies is an important factor. But there was little information about the owner’s willingness regarding energetic building modernisation – especially of private owners, which represent about 75% in the Oststadt. Different kinds of surveys (online, by telephone and on paper) made it possible to create profiles. The analysis of the surveys has revealed that the information about energy issues is for the moment more important for strengthening the energy awareness than specific calculations about energy consumption. The fact that even small adjustments of the user’s behaviour (e.g. changing the heating operation to summer mode, nighttime reduction yes/no) can achieve energy savings, was seen as a motivation. Furthermore, the survey also showed that it is easier to save “visible” energies than saving “invisible” energies. Hence, it is easier for the residents to use less water (apparent consumption) than saving electricity (non-apparent).

    An energy check for the Oststadt

    In 2015 the energy consulting proposed by the Oststadt citizens was set up in the Future Space. In cooperation with the Karlsruhe energy and climate protection agency (KEK) and the consumer advice center, cost-free consultations about the topics energy and climate were offered and an overview about KEK’s energy checks were offered. In addition to this, the energy consulting offered information about energetic building modernisation as well as their financing and funding possibilities, public speeches and direct contact to specialists. With the energy consulting, a local contact point was created to help the citizens of the Oststadt making the first steps into a sustainable lifestyle regarding energy and climate and to support the optimization of their consumption of electricity, heating or water.

    One of those speeches took place at the theme night – future energy in the Future Space. Scientists and citizens had the chance to talk about the results of the surveys, mapping and the details of the building analysis. The posters of this night can be found under the link below this article.

    The energy project of the Urban Transition Lab is also known beyond the local borders. At the EU Sustainable Energy Week 2017 (EUSEW) the project had the chance to present its work and to discuss with a professional audience from politics and science.

    And what’s next?

    Energy is a subject which will continue accompanying us in the Oststadt and that will deal intensively with climate protection.

    We are open for new ideas and in search of active people who want to help us making the Oststadt more sustainable.

    Do you have questions, wishes or do you want to realise a project? Visit us at the Future Space or send a message to Volker Stelzer (

    This was the last part of our blog series about the activities of the Urban Transition Lab 131 and its projects. We would like to thank our intern Vanessa Kügler for the thorough research.

    For further reading (in German):

    Poster 1 „Energieeffizienz als wichtiges Gebäudemerkmal – Ergebnisse einer Befragung von Vermietern in der Karlsruher Oststadt“

    Poster 2 „Energiebedarf und gebundene Ressourcen im Gebäudebestand der Oststadt“

  6. Following the traces of the Urban Transition Lab 131 – Part III Social Affairs & Spaces

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    It has almost been three years since the real world lab project Urban Transition Lab 131 was launched under the umbrella of the framework project District Future – Urban Lab. Under the promotional initiative BaWÜ-Labs of the Baden-Württemberg Ministry for Science, Research and Culture and with the aim to prove new models for the cooperation between science and society, the Urban Transition Lab 131 started its journey towards a (more) sustainable urban development. In this blog series we are taking a look back at the last three years of the Urban Transition Lab 131.

    An article by Vanessa Kügler & Helena Trenks. Translation by Sophie Dauenhauer

    In the previous articles we already presented the topics “Sustainable Consumption” and “Mobility”. The third part of our blog series continues with the activities which were developed during the last years in the Oststadt under the umbrella term “Social Affairs & Spaces”. Starting as two individual projects (“Spaces” and “Social Affairs”), very soon the many links between the two topics became clear. That is why they were merged into one Urban Transition Lab 131-project.

    Open spaces can have a significant impact on the interconnection with the quarter by fostering networks, creating places and occasions for community and communication and bringing people of all generations that are living in the neighbourhood together. Such a space is enormously important, especially for groups that strongly depend on the neighbourhood environment (e.g. elderly people, families). As areas for sports, playing, encounter and movement, they play an important role for health promotion. Especially in times of an accelerated society, resting areas are an important opposite pole to the constant mobility in our daily lives. Here, we can learn to leave the rush behind, come to rest and to relax. It follows, therefore, that spaces influence the social interaction, and vice versa.

    In this sense, the overarching goal of “Social Affairs & Spaces” was to find publicly available spaces in the Oststadt and to investigate their importance and potential for encounter and movement in the quarter.

    Oststadt as social and free space

    Again, the results of the citizens’ forum were the starting point of this project of the Urban Transition Lab 131.Taking into consideration that the density and the size of our cities are constantly increasing, and the fact that our population is becoming older and more colourful, we asked the citizens:

    What will be the importance of social networks in the future? What contribution can be made by the neighbourhood to increase the quality of life in the quarter? What is the role of the public spaces? In times of growing cities, how can we maintain the green qualities of the quarter?

    Tranquillity, movement, health and social interaction are aspects that were emphasized as important qualities (of life) of open spaces in the neighbourhood. These topics were then taken up and deepened by the project group of the Urban Transition Lab 131. As a first step, the existing open spaces were examined during a space analysis:

    • What kind of open spaces exist?
    • How do the citizens experience, use and evaluate them?
    • What kind of potentials do open spaces offer for utilisations in the future (especially with respect to tranquillity, movement and encounters)?

    Monitoring, walks, mapping, interviews with the residents and expert discussions helped obtaining an (atmospheric) picture of the current situation. In addition, an “emotional city map” was created. Important spots that crystallized in negative and positive ways were Gottesauer Platz, Durlacher Tor/ Bernhardusplatz; Otto-Dullenkopf Park and the axis Ludwig-Wilhelm Straße /Gerwigstraße – Georg-Friedrich Straße. Proceeding from these results, three main topics have arisen.

    (More) space for encounter – exercise – easing

    Make three out of one: The subprojects

    A “tool box” was developed from all the results of the open space analysis and the core points of the BürgerProgramm (citizens program). Three subprojects were formed which were managed by subgroups from different chairs of the KIT. Besides the scientists of the KIT and the team of the Urban Transition Lab, students, representatives of the city administration, citizens and sports clubs in the Oststadt were involved.

    Rethinking existing spaces: The subproject “Linear Square”

    The subproject Linear Square that belongs to the Faculty for Architecture focussed on the quality of public spaces (paths, streets, squares). The project’s aim was to emerge a very special concept from the existing road network: a linear square! Meaning: an open space for exercise and encounter that connects the neighbourhood and can be used by the Oststadt-citizens in an active, cross-generational and sustainable way. In a manner of speaking a “common land” in the city that makes health and well-being, playful activities and learning possible.

    A mobility plan for the Oststadt and street-profiles were created to record the multitude of daily movements and being able talking about them. Through conversations with the citizens of the Oststadt, it was possible to create individual movement profiles of users. Furthermore, the experimental seminar “Wege/Gehen” (paths/walking) was organised at the Faculty for Architecture. In this seminar themed walks through the Oststadt were developed – e.g. “Walking by night” or “Movement for the young and the old”.

    Shaping open spaces: The subproject “Mapping Space”

    Design and perception of public spaces were the contents of the subproject Mapping Space (as well Faculty for Architecture) that was realised from 2016 to 2017 by students of architecture. With the aim of uncovering hidden potential of streets, paths, squares, green spaces or courtyards and presenting public spaces in a new way, students developed scouting games (geocaching) in the Oststadt as well as design ideas for landscaping of the Bernhardusplatz or the axis from Gottesauer Platz to Karl-Wilhelm-Straße and dealt with the Oststadt in terms of theory. The courses took place altering between the Future Space and the faculty. Some of the presentations were open for the public. The students also took part at the Oststadt Picnic and discussed their ideas with the other participants. Thereby, the subproject connected two learning spaces: university- the learning space for the prospective architects – and the real world lab – learning space for the urban community. You can download the reader with the results of the different exercises (in German) here. If you want to have it in a high resolution, please contact us. A printed version of the reader can be found in the Future Space.

    Together on the move: The subproject “Netzwerk Bewegung” (“Network Movement”)

    The Network Movement of the Oststadt was a subproject of the Institute for Sports and Sports Science: Its aim was to scrutinize the movement offerings, spaces for movement and relationship structures of the involved stakeholders that are working in the field of movement. Free and daily forms of movement and playing were just as important as organised, traditional sports activities offered by sports clubs.

    • Which sports and movement facilities are offered in the Oststadt?
    • Who is using these moving spaces and for what?
    • How is the usage of these spaces organised?
    • Which relationships exist between the users (e.g. exchange of information, joint organisation, rental of sports equipment or the like)?

    The open spaces were also examined regarding the aspect “everyday movement” and furthermore the walkability and bikeability of the district were brought up for discussion. In terms of walkability, the citizens themselves have the chance to become active. By using the Walkability check list, they can highlight areas of the Oststadt with potentials for improvement.

    Mixture is the key! Join us!

    One thing is clear: The Urban Transition Lab 131 project Social Affairs & Spaces stands out due to its mixture of methods and participants. City council, scientists, citizens and students from various fields and disciplines and with different background are working hand in hand benefitting from each other’s theoretical and practical knowledge. This is exactly what defines real world labs!

    Smaller events in the quarter that should focus attention on public spaces were also a part of the project. One of these events was the “Freiluftwohnzimmer” (“outdoor living room”), that took place in 2014 and 2016. District Future initiated this event at took part at it. True to the motto “Take it easy!”, urbanites had the chance to reclaim open spaces and at the same time, sitting together with their neighbours over coffee and cake.

    For the future, we want to keep on working on the topics community and (open) spaces in the Oststadt. How we can do this is a question that can only be answered by you and your ideas! Although most of the activities of the project Social Affairs & Spaces have already ended, we are still interested in keeping up the work!

    Do you have a wish or an idea on how we can make the Oststadt an even better social space? We are always looking for creative minds that want to become active! Just contact us (Helena Trenks is your contact partner: ) or visit us during the opening hours in the Future Space.

  7. Following the traces of the Urban Transition Lab 131 – Part II Mobility

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    We continue our blog series about the Urban Transition Lab 131. Since 2015 when the project was launched, scientists and citizens have the possibility to work together in order to develop and test measures for a (more) sustainable urban development. In the previous article we talked about the activities of the project Sustainable Consumption. This second part of the series continues with an exciting and much discussed topic of sustainability research: mobility!

    An article by Vanessa Kügler & Sarah Meyer-Soylu. Translation by Sophie Dauenhauer

    Part II: Being mobile and human while moving around the Oststadt

    Mobility is getting more and more important in our lifestyle. Thanks to smartphone and internet flat rate we can be contacted anytime and anywhere. For sure! We jump in the car or on the train and quickly arrive at our destination. It’s a matter of course, isn’t it? We are always on the move and always mobile – no matter if we want it or not. Our little digital helpers are an integral part of our daily routine. Man is a creature of habits – or rather a creature of laziness?

    And also on our everyday stroll through the city we still tend to our routine and get annoyed about being stuck in the traffic instead of thinking about alternative means of transportation or (more) sustainable means of travel. Wouldn’t it be high time for us to be aware of our mobility behaviour and the consequences for our health and the environment? This question is related to the crucial questions of the project “Mobilitätsaspekte” (mobility aspects) within the Urban Transition Lab 131: How can I move around the city and cause as little harm to the environment as possible? How can we make mobility socially fair and human?

    Being individually mobile

    There are countless aspects that can be grouped under the keyword mobility. But where to start?

    “Mobility in the city is too often harmful to the environment and nerve-racking. We think about a mobility concept which relies on bicycles, smart traffic management systems, and collective means of transport.”

    (Goal of the key topic Mobile city)

    The focus of the activities in the project “Mobility aspects” was on the area everyday mobility with its three key action points:

    • Sustainable organisation of daily transporting
    • Integration of bicycles and especially cargo bikes in our daily mobile routines
    • Research of central traffic junctions (less traffic, more quality of stay!)

    How we organise our trips and which means of transport we use is not only a product of our habits, it of course depends heavily on individual factors: e.g. physical fitness, age or the demand of transporting things like for example a pram. Additionally to these factors, our choice of the means of transportation is influenced by external factors like for example condition and routing of existing bikeways or road closures in connection with provided information about the possibilities of reaching the destination.

    Organising the mobile daily life: Welcome to the travel agency for your everyday life!

    How is it possible to satisfy various mobility needs of different user groups and coordinate them in a sustainable way?

    To create a point of contact for the citizens of the Oststadt where they also can question or improve their mobility behaviour, the Urban Transition Lab 131 cooperated with the Institute for Transport (IfV). Together with this institution, that belongs to the KIT, the so-called travel agency for everyday life was established. Since the beginning of 2016, the citizens had the possibility to use the regular and free mobility consultancy, where they could get information on local mobility services and apps. This consultation should help finding more efficient and sustainable ways of travelling that nevertheless meet the individual requirements. The mobility consultancy was established in reaction to a suggestion that was made at the citizen’s forum and which was realized later than expected. Everyone involved had a lot of staying power. When the time of the opening had come at last, we unfortunately had to realize that the offer wasn’t accepted as well as we hoped. We use this experience to suit our coming project more to the citizens and their needs!

    In order to make the citizens more familiar with the topic mobility and alternative means of transportation, the exposition “Von hier nach da” (from here to there) by the youth section of the environmental association BUND came to the Future Space. This touring exhibition gave the Oststadt some inspiring ideas and visions about a new mobility culture. Movie nights and presentations created a relaxing atmosphere for exchanging ideas and experiences.

    You don’t always need four wheels: Come on and hop on your bike!

    Car traffic – rolling or parking – dominates the quarter. This remark by the citizens was the decisive factor for an emphasis on the topic bike. In addition to that came our motivation to improve the situation for the bicycle traffic in the Oststadt and to motivate people to use their bikes more often.

    You don’t always need a car to transport bigger items – that’s a fact we have long been convinced of and which is why the topic carrier bicycle has been a part of our project since the beginning. Our attempts to receive funding for this topic haven’t been successful. All the more, we are pleased that people are sharing the idea throughout Karlsruhe and even established a rental system for carrier bikes: Lastenkarle. Only a stone’s throw away from the Future Space, you can find a carrier bike that can be rented by anybody!

    The Urban Transition Lab 131 as well owns a carrier bike which we take with us to different events to transport heavy and bulky equipment from A to B without producing any emissions!

    By taking part at the PARK(ing) Day Karlsruhe we want to draw attention to the critical relationship between car traffic and townscape- especially the enormous amount of space that is used for car parking and the question: what if we these parking areas were used in other ways?

    Matching with our focus on bicycles, a student thesis on the topic daily bicycle use in the Oststadt – especially bicycle parking – was written. With the help of surveys – online and face-to-face – more than 100 citizens of the Oststadt were asked about their personal bicycle use. The questionnaire reviewed, among other things:

    • How often the citizens are using their bicycles and what may be the reason for them to not using it (especially the car drivers)
    • What kind of measures would be needed to make them use the bicycle more often in the future
    • Where and how the citizens of the Oststadt park their bikes and what kind of problems this way of parking can cause.

    You want to read more about it? No problem! You find the link to the thesis (PDF) here and at the end of the article.

    In connection with the thesis and to further sensitize for the topic bicycling and bike parking in the city, a public talk was held at the District Future regular’s table in the Oststadt. Another part of the evening was a discussion about the results of the survey and the derived recommendations for action.

    Mobility as a model

    How does the closing of a street or the usage of a shared space effect an urban quarter? To be able to answer such questions, the Urban Transition Lab 131-Team used an already existing traffic model of the Oststadt to make interactions of the traffic streams visible and comprehensible and to derive scenarios.

    Particular attention was paid to the central traffic hub at Gottesauer Platz. In order to improve the quality of stay and to meet the citizen’s wishes regarding area design and the parking situation, redesign measures for this place were developed. In another master thesis, concrete upgrading plans for the Gottesauer Platz were worked out. Are you curious? You find the link to the thesis here and at the end of the article.

    By simulating the traffic, it was possible to create an up-to-date picture of the congestion. However, one challenge became increasingly clear to the scientists: the many construction sites that are present throughout Karlsruhe. With the construction of the new underground line and the related line blockades and diversions, it is effectively impossible calculating the actual traffic in the area after the completion of the construction work. This means the absence of reliable data that makes it difficult to assess interactions and prevents the enforcement of precise measures.

    What comes next?

    How do we proceed with the former results? At the public discussion and presentation on 27 June 2016 in the Future Space, we presented our results and received a lot of suggestions for further work. In 2018, the topic mobility will stay on our agenda! Depending on the funding, we will even give stronger emphasis on mobility and work on it together with the topics nutrition, consumption and climate protection.

    We are looking for you and your ideas! You want to share your thoughts and actions on sustainability? We are happy to help implementing your project ideas. Just contact us (Sarah Meyer-Soylu is your contact partner: or visit us during the opening hours in the Future Space.

    Curious? You can read on here (in German):

  8. Great news: The real-world lab will be extended!

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    From knowledge to action: under this motto and with the support of the real-world lab District Future and the Urban Transition Lab 131, a lot has happened during the last years in the Oststadt.

    The Future Space for sustainability and science has developed to a fixed point in the Karlsruhe district Oststadt. At first it seemed that the funding of our project would unfortunately be discontinued by the end of the year. As some of you might know, we started proposing subsequent applications and collected ideas until our heads were spinning. At the end of 2017 we could sight with relief for the time being! With the subsequent funding of the KIT presidential committee, the continuity of our project in 2018 is ensured in a slimmed-down form since September 2017 (we reported on this in our autumn-newsletter). We are all the more pleased to give you more good news: the Baden- Württemberg Ministry of Science, Research and the Arts (MWK) as well confirmed a follow-up financing for the next two years.

    Now it is about to plan the real-world lab’s future. Our big wish is to perpetuate the project in order to ensure that in future we continue being a reliable and constant partner for sustainable development in the Oststadt and throughout Karlsruhe. That is why we want to use the next two years to give rise to the “Karlsruhe Transformation Center for Sustainable Futures and Cultural Change” (KAT) which is based on our current project. The goal is to support the long-term process of cultural change towards sustainable future by transforming our society – technically, socially and institutionally. For us, this is a major milestone. Furthermore, it is an important signal showing that working in the real-world lab – together with and directly in society – needs one thing above all others: time. “In order to develop the scientific and transformer potential of real-world labs, long-term orientation and institutionalisation are essential. We want to take up this challenge with the KAT”, says head of the project Oliver Parodi.

    In the coming year, our work in the Oststadt will be continued while at the same time, we will start with the building up of the KAT. With the establishment of the Transformation Center we want to extend our range of tasks: education, consulting as well as transdisciplinary basic research shall complement the portfolio of the current real-world lab. Knowledge about the topic “real-world labs” which we gathered in the last years could be used and further developed in order to intensify the cooperation of science and society. This open-ended process generates knowledge which has an impact on the practice. Our vision is to make the KAT a motor for sustainable development that is locally, nationally and internationally effective and visible.

    You as citizens of the quarter are still the main part of our joint work. We are glad that this funding ensures the future of our cooperation, so we can go on contributing our share to sustainable development together hand in hand.  We will of course keep you up to date about the progress that is going on in the real-world lab.

    Press release of the KIT

  9. Following the traces of the Urban Transition Lab 131 – Part I Consumption

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    It has almost been three years since the real world lab project Urban Transition Lab 131 was launched under the umbrella of the framework project District Future – Urban Lab. Under the promotional initiative BaWÜ-Labs of the Baden-Württemberg Ministry for Science, Research and Culture and with the aim to prove new models for the cooperation between science and society, the Urban Translation Lab 131 started its journey towards a (more) sustainable urban development.

    An article by Vanessa Kügler. Translation by Sophie Dauenhauer

    The next four articles on our Blog will focus on the experiences of the Urban Transition Lab 131- topics:

    Sustainable consumption – Mobility – Social Affairs and Space – Energy

    These topics are based on the wishes of the citizens who took part at the citizens’ forum “Sustainable Oststadt – Future made by citizens” of the District Future and at the same time form the central elements of the research that is done by the Urban Transition Lab 131. Thereby the real world lab is inseparably interwoven with the ones who are directly affected: the citizens.


    Part I: Consuming in a sustainable matter is possible – even in the city. The Oststadt shows how it works!

    Our blog series starts with the topic “Sustainable Consumption”. Relating to it, what has happened in the Oststadt? What are (more) sustainable forms of consumption and how can these be integrated in the urban quarter and the everyday life of the citizens?

    Consumption has an effect – on the world we are part of, the world that surrounds us, the world to come, and ourselves. We want to contribute to a conscious, sustainable, and regional consumption and revive cultural skills like barter and repair.”

    (Goal of the key topic Sustainable Consumption)

    Consumption is a topic that has accompanied the District Future for a while, even before the Urban Transition Lab 131 was about to start. The initiation of the Repair Café in 2013 was the start of activities that questioned the throwaway culture and presented a counter model. In the meantime, the RepairCafé Karlsruhe has become an independent association. We are very happy about this development and proud about our role as a driving force!

    Furthermore, evening events were organized and gave the opportunity to discuss about special topics like for example local food in the city.

    These consumption-critical events were integrated in the Urban Transition Lab 131-project “Sustainable Consumption”. Since 2016 further practical components were added – with the aim to jointly test alternative forms of consumption in the Oststadt.


    KonsumCafé: where acting differently is fun – the SustainabilityExperiments are also taking part

    To provide a framework for those activities of the Urban Transition Lab that concentrate on sustainable consumption, we initiated the format “KonsumCafé” (Consumption Café). Regular events of this format are the swap party for clothes (“Kleidertauschparty”) and the “Pflanzentauschbörse” where people have the opportunity to swap plants and seeds. These events are already fixed components of the life in the quarter. There are also single activities like lectures and workshops (e.g. Ökodorf meets District Future or the District Future- regulars’ table with the topic Consumption at Christmas) have become established features. With these events we want to show that acting and consuming sustainably is fun and gives motivation.

    During the events of the KonsumCafé the visitors also get background information on textile industry, conditions of production in the clothing industry or seed sovereignty. KonsumCafé-events give the opportunity to share ideas about how everyone can change something.

    Two “SustainabilityExperiments” are directly or indirectly dealing with the topic consumption: The secondhand-label “Second Future” and the urban gardening-experiment “Beete und Bienen” (Beds and Bees). A nice effect: Events of the KonsumCafé and the SustainabilityExperiments got together to achieve common goals. The best example therefor is the cooperation between the swap party for clothes and “Second Future” – a wonderful addition, as we think!

    The different event- and participation-formats are therefore essential components and platforms for knowledge exchange and new forms of collaboration.

    Knowledge is power- and helps along!

    The join-in offers are only one part of the Urban Transition Lab 131- activities: another important element is communication and information about the project’s main topics. The medium we use for this is our blog, on which we regularly write about topics concerning consumption and alternatives. Our website is an important tool to provide knowledge about sustainable consumption patterns in the quarter and beyond. We have already published several articles about these topics.

    These are among other things:

    Are you curious? Click here to get to the overview of the published articles (in German).

    A real world lab – why is that?

    Within the Urban Transition Lab 131 various approaches and ideas for a (more) sustainable way of life in the city emerged. Some have been implemented and are now partly carried out by the citizens themselves.

    For the experiments, the topic sustainable consumption is very tangible, because it appears and confronts us in our everyday life. It is especially suitable for taking a closer look, questioning structures and habits and to try out new things.

    An example for a sustainable approach that is trendy right now is “sharing and swapping instead of possessing and throwing away”. A return to neighbourly self-help and learning from each other are an attractive counter model to the increasing anonymity in the city. Increasing awareness for sustainable consumption pattern becomes apparent. This is reflected, for example, in the increasing number of alternative living and supply concepts which are based on sharing-approaches.

    The real world lab has become established as space for experience and exchange. Especially the “Zukunftsraum” (Future Space) serves as a place where these topics are collectively discussed and where corresponding action alternatives get discovered. Such an exchange helps to develop a stronger awareness about one’s own consumer behaviour and related consumption patterns that were “learnt” from society. An incentive to start thinking outside the box and to do this is an exploratory way, without a lot of planning and with an eye to the quarter and the people living in it.

    The project duration of the Urban Transition Lab 131 ended with the end of 2017, but we already know: The Future Space and District Future continue to exist!

    So we are open for new ideas about the topic consumption and also in 2018 we are searching for people who want to get active. The KonsumCafé will still be one main emphasis of our work and it will start concentrating on the topic climate protection.

    If you have any questions or ideas for your own project on the topic sustainable consumption, visit us at the Future Space or send us a message to:

  10. Bye bye plastic bottles – Karlsruhe’s Future Space becomes part of the “Refill” campaign

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    From now on the Future Space for sustainability and science (Zukunftsraum) in Karlsruhe – Oststadt is an official “Refill” station and part of the German “Refill” movement. With the slogan “Avoid plastic waste / Drink tap water / Refill your water bottle”, the campaign draws attention to our society’s vast use of plastic and the  environmental pollution resulting from it. Moreover, the initiative wants to show that environmentally friendly alternatives do exist. The solution is simple: waste prevention.

    Some shops, pharmacies, cafes or offices already participate. And now also the “Future Space” supports this new label: A small sticker at doors or windows indicates that thirsty passers-by can refill their water bottles with tap water for free. Refilling instead of buying bottled water is the simple and yet effective approach to reduce plastic waste. But why?

    The problem of producing plastic waste

    In (too) many cases plastic waste is not properly disposed of but released into the environment endangering our nature. It is a vicious circle: First it is dropped in the streets, later the wind blows it into rivers, from where it easily gets into the sea. The environmental pollution reached a new all-time high. In 2015, plastic consumption in Western European countries amounted to 136 kg per head, while in 1980 it was only 40 kilograms (see Statista). The German environmental organisation “Deutsche Umwelthilfe” states that the number of plastic bottles sold in Germany each day (!) amounts to 46 million. In many – for example Asian – countries, infrastructures for waste recycling are still missing. As a result, a large number of plastic waste ends up in the ocean – which causes numerous negative effects. We all know about dramatic pictures of garbage paths in the sea, rubbish-strewn beaches and birds that are perishing, because of mistaking plastic particles for food.
    Microorganisms are not able to degrade plastics completely. The particles become smaller, but never decompose: The remnants are called microplastic. According to the Federal Environment Agency (Umweltbundesamt), one plastic bottle takes 450 years to decompose. Just to let you know: Banana peels and paper bags only need approximately six weeks for the same process…

    Plastic waste is everywhere – and harmful for humans and the environment

    The visible amount of waste represents a very small part of the refuse problem only. The microplastics settle in the ecosystems – for example in sediments. In this way, they also reach the deep sea – which is inaccessible to humans. Sea animals such as seashells or plankton consume the microplastics via food and accumulate the particles in their muscles and organs. Through the food chain, the plastic enters the human body. However, its impacts on the health of humans and animals are not fully known yet.
    Moreover, plastic particles are often extremely small and light causing them to be scattered widely in the ocean. Melanie Bergman, biologist and scientist in the field of deep sea research at the Alfred-Wegener-Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Marine and Polar Research, recently called the deep sea a final repository for plastics. According to her, all parts of the sea are already affected by this problem. Large amounts of plastic can be found in the deep sea, the Antarctic, the Arctic and on remote islands. This was currently confirmed by a team of researchers – led by the British Polar Researcher Pen Hadow – which returned from its exhibition to the Arctic. Bergmann estimates the amount of plastic which can be found in the deep sea as a hundred to a thousand times higher than the amount that is visible on the water surface.
    The German organisation for environment and nature conservation (BUND) has also pointed out that some of the harmful additives, like plasticizers, stabilizers or flame retardants are not permanently bound to the plastics and can be gradually released into the environment and the human body.

    Plastic fasting – Let’s start with the water bottle!

    So what are we supposed to do? The “Refill” campaign promotes a (more) plastic-free lifestyle and starts at an essential point: drinking water – our most important daily product. In Germany, tap water is equal to drinking water. So, basically you can get water everywhere, right out of the tap. Why do we need plastic bottles then? You can easily contribute to the reduction of plastic waste every day – just by giving up buying water in plastic bottles and saying yes to the tap. Precycling is a trend. In this spirit: come and try some tap water in the Future Space – the door is wide open for anyone who is thirsty!


    Further Links

    Refill Germany

    BUND – Tips to avoid plastic waste is everyday life – Avoiding plastic: 30 tips for everyday

    BUND – Shopping guide microplastics

  11. We and our things. From consumers to users of our products?

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    Each person living in Europe owns an average of 10 000 items – a figure set to increase. Antje Di Foglio of the District Future team is product designer and has been exploring the aging of things for years. She has a sustainable vision: Let us turn back into users of our products.

    During his first week in kindergarten without his mom, little Jonas takes his cuddly toy with him. Grandpa Karl flatly refuses to trash the old, tatty carpet in the hallway. The things and we – there is definitely something between us, some sort of relationship, a connection, some flying sparks.

    If we and our things have a common history: The owner of this polar bear is 25 years old. Picture: Antje Di Foglio.

    In fact the things that surround us are more than mere objects of utility. The wardrobe in the bedroom, my jeans, the walls in my parents’ house, the little wall in the garden: Our things are points of identity and key elements in our world and help us to position ourselves. Who am I and where am I at the moment? We can express ourselves with their help and have something to hold on to. But what do we do if the number of things in our life is ever increasing? And we replace, substitute, and dump them more and more rapidly to buy new ones? What does this do to us and our world?

    In fact the things that surround us are more than mere objects of utility. The wardrobe in the bedroom, my jeans, the walls in my parents’ house, the little wall in the garden: Our things are points of identity and key elements in our world and help us to position ourselves. Who am I and where am I at the moment? We can express ourselves with their help and have something to hold on to. But what do we do if the number of things in our life is ever increasing? And we replace, substitute, and dump them more and more rapidly to buy new ones? What does this do to us and our world?

    Things are manufactured to be consumed

    “Today, things are manufactured to be consumed”, states Antje, who studied at the Hochschule für Gestaltung in Karlsruhe. While traditional materials like wood, metal, china, leather, and linen age with dignity and can outlive generations, most of the materials used today would only become shabby and damaged over the years. Shirts made of polyacrylics, sideboards made of pressboard, the sofa made of faux leather: “These materials do not age. They fall apart.”

    This is, according to Antje, not only due to an economic system which relies on “planned obsolescence”, i.e. the built-in defects of products. It is also a Western concept of esthetics which we have all taken in by now. “This is the Hellenistic view of the world in whose tradition we are rooted and are familiar with”, she explains. “Everything is about perfection and youth! Today, products should be beautiful, shiny, immaculate. It is about personal optimization by ‘doing more’ and ‘buying more’.” Beautiful means new. And what is not new can go.

    Wabi-sabi instead of everything new

    In Japan, Antje discovered an alternative way of seeing things, a theory of esthetics, a philosophy: It is called “wabi-sabi” and includes the aging, the imperfect, incomplete and ephemeral, discovers the beauty within. A wooden flooring with deep scratches due to decades of use by a family. A jacket which was elaborately, but still obviously mended. A broken china plate, which was put together using liquid gold.

    Impermanence in gold: the Japanese technique of Kintsugi. Picture: Wikipedia

    “Wabi-sabi is about honesty and authenticity”, says Antje. Things are allowed to tell their story. They can show that they are in use, being needed, and live together with their people.

    “The poor elves of Yiwu”

    Fact is: During the last century we have lost our connection to things by distinguishing between manufacture and consumption of products, between craftspeople, workers, and buyers. A global phenomenon, which turned low-wage countries into the Western world’s textile factory and workbench. One example are the Christmas villages in the Chinese city of Yiwu which gained a weird sort of fame. Two-thirds of all Christmas decorations are manufactured there. Without even knowing what they actually produce, the migrant workers there work by the piece for a pittance; the German newspaper FAZ once called them the “poor elves of Yiwu”. And published pictures of the Chinese photographer Chen Ronghui who shot a father and his son at work – standing in red paint and chemicals, their heads only poorly protected by Santa hats.

    Almost all Santa hats like this one are produced in the Chinese city of Yiwu.

    Is Yiwu everywhere? Probably it can be seen as a symbol for our unrelatedness to our things. And this venomed, Far Eastern Christmas idyll quite plainly shows the impacts of this disconnection: People and the environment are being exploited for products which did not come to stay. Year after year they end up on the scrapheap. Year after year we buy them anew.

    From consumers to users?

    But: What can the consumers do? And which potential for change is implied in the self-understanding of the manufacturers? Anyhow, for Antje both sides are responsible – and she believes that change is possible. “We, the designers, act in a complex and ramified area of conflict and bear a huge social and moral responsibility from which we should not escape, are not allowed to escape. We designers work for the people and on relationships, our esthetic order of things keeps them grounded in a chaotic world. Products have to become more sustainable, more ecological, and more humane. There must not be design just for the sake of design.” What would happen if we would treat the things with respect again, honor and respect the work and care of the manufacturers? If we surround ourselves with things that are allowed to age and live with us – wouldn’t we realize that we do not need so many new things?

    “‘Which are the things I like to live with? Which are the things I am related with?’ we could ask ourselves”, says Antje. “If we shop like this, we are also more likely to consume things which are more appreciated and loved and with which we want to live for a long time.” More and more consumers are, according to Antje, looking for the real, the true, for authenticity and meaning. “We are running short of resources, in a few decades the oilfields will be drained. A new understanding of the consumer will emerge. Maybe we could put it like this: We have to move on from consumers to users of our things.”“

    Antje Di Foglio studied product design at the Hochschule für Gestaltung in Karlsruhe. Her thesis “Spuren der Zeit” (The marks of time) dealt with the relationships and emotions into which people enter with their products – and their meaning for culture and society. A bound copy of her work is on display in the Future Space – come and have a look!
    As a member of District Future, Antje wants to show the people and citizens how small steps can actively make a change for ourselves and others and change our consumer behavior. Because we are sure: Buying has an effect – on the world we are part of, the world that surrounds us, the world to come, and ourselves. In the new year, we want to contribute to a conscious, sustainable, and more regional consumption and revive cultural skills like barter and repair. Together with you we would like to think about the way sustainable consumption could look like in Karlsruhe’s Oststadt. We will keep you informed on our website, Facebook & Twitter!

  12. TATuP thematic focus on real world labs is looking at a new form of research

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    An article by Richard Beecroft & Alexandra Quint

    District Future is – from the scientific perspective – a real world lab. But what does this mean? This question is answered in the current issue of TATuP – the ITAS journal on technology assessment with its thematic focus on real world labs. It is now available online and provides orientation on the current real world lab research in Germany. It also reports about District Future. Click! And start reading!

    What is a real world lab? How do real world labs work? Who can join them and how does successful participation look like? Are there other real world labs like District Future? These and other questions are addressed in the recent TATuP issue with its thematic focus on real world labs. TATuP is a scientific journal on technology assessment published by ITAS. The current issue is now available online and free of charge.

    Real world labs are a young form of research. They aim at intensifying the collaboration between science and civil society towards a sustainable development by carrying out analyses and experiments and gaining insights together. Not an easy task – for both sides. Therefore it is worth taking a closer look at the different experiences gained by the first real world labs in the federal state of Baden-Württemberg, Germany and elsewhere. Some of them are portrayed in the thematic focus “Reallabore als Orte der Nachhaltigkeitsforschung und Transformation” (Real world labs as places of sustainability research and transformation).

    What is it about?

    As an introduction to this rather unwieldy topic, the editors outline the experiences on which the development of real world labs was based and what is so special about them. Of course there has been research before which dealt with real problems of everyday life and included citizens in different ways. There has also been long-established research oriented along large ethical concepts like sustainable development. However, many of these approaches only focused on a narrow topic and were only short-lived: individual case studies which were not able to provide the framework for larger transformations. Here real world labs are meant to step in. They should find out if and how this could be possible. Since the concept of real world labs is so new, many key terms have to be defined first. Real world lab research ties in with many different sciences, therefore the corresponding muddle of terms can be quite large. In order to contribute to an improvement here, the second article describes its key terms in a glossary (de).

    First real world labs in Baden-Württemberg, Germany

    Several real world labs are also discussed in the thematic focus. It is no coincidence that the following examples are all taken from Baden- Württemberg – they were all initiated by a funding initiative of the federal state. While the seven real world labs of the first round are based on similar methodologies, the selected topics are very different.

    Freiburg’s real world lab Knowledge Dialogue Northern Black Forest (de) accompanies the establishment of the Black Forest National Park. A number of conflicts emerged in that region in the wake of its establishment, some of which still exist. The real world lab is therefore looking for potentials for the sustainable development of the region. In parallel, it also analyzes ecological processes in the new national park. In the article we also learn about the special framework conditions that rural areas provide for real world lab research which usually takes place in the cities.

    The Urban Office Heidelberg (de) has a theoretical starting point: the concept of knowledge society. Several case studies in Heidelberg analyze its relevance for urban development. It is interesting to see that the real world lab Urban Office has to examine itself as a “place of knowledge” in the area under investigation – it is its own experiment.

    The Tübingen Energy Lab (de) is looking at the energy transition in Tübingen. The text exemplifies its experiences with the educational opportunities in the real world lab which are otherwise hardly discussed in real world lab research. The example of the Children’s University of Tübingen does not only introduce the different aspects of education for sustainable development. It also ties in methodologically with real world lab work. This makes it clear that real world labs are also places of learning. The authors also raise the question how children can and should be included in real world lab research.

    And despite all the differences of today’s real world labs, there are also significant commonalities: large efforts for the establishment of the real world lab’s infrastructure, high flexibility requirements on the lab to meet a changing “reality”, but also to pick up the results of the learning processes gone through. In addition, there are often problems regarding the time intervals for research, teaching, urban and spatial planning, and the dynamics of civic initiatives. And finally disciplinary science can be irritated by the new and transdisciplinarily oriented research format real world lab. However, it is important to reach those scientists only working within their disciplines and win them over for real world lab processes. This is the only way to advertise and spread this new form of research. However, there are also inspiring and encouraging experiences, like the insight that the educational aspect of real world labs has an enormous potential, that transformation processes can indeed be started, and that results are achieved in the small framework of real world labs that can have a large impact on society.

    Where is real world lab research heading?

    The first real world labs are an experiment that is thoroughly researched itself. At the end, some of the accompanying researchers formulate in provisional theses how real world lab research has to be set up in the future. They see a large potential for this new format to bring together science, civil society, and other partners for a fruitful co-operation. But efforts have to be made on both sides to open up the ivory tower of science. Scientists have to learn how to think through their work from the practical perspective again. And citizens have to get into the peculiarities of science which can still make a large contribution to the work on societal problems. So why not make a start with this journal? All the articles of the TATuP thematic focus on real world labs are freely accessible: (de)

  13. Book release: Designing Sustainable Urban Futures

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    Cities have great potential to become sustainable habitats. Challenges, concepts and approaches along the way are described in the anthology Designing Sustainable Urban Futures edited by researchers of the District Future – Urban Lab project and the Florida Institute of Technology.

    Cities are known as huge energy consumers, producers of greenhouse gases and waste, as anonymous places of coexistence marked by segregation, with masses of cars and people moving around. The book “Designing Sustainable Urban Futures – Concepts and Practices from Different Countries” looks at urban spaces from a completely different perspective. It argues that many cities of the 21st century, despite social and environmental problems, have great potential to offer its residents a jointly used and resource efficient habitat.

    The authors of the anthology discuss concepts and alternative approaches to sustainability-oriented cities from the perspective of various disciplines. With contributions from Europe, Asia and the US, they demonstrate the diversity of contexts and challenges for designing sustainable habitats. It becomes evident that cities are particularly worth living in if they combine multifunctional structures, a well-integrated transport infrastructure and democratic urban development processes.

    A key finding of the publication is that sustainable city futures require a strong focus on human needs, environment and health as well as the joint design of creative spaces for sustainable practices. What such a space might look like is shown in the contribution on the Karlsruhe real laboratory District Future – Urban Lab. Other contributions analyze, among other things, the potential of cohousing for community-based and ecological district development as well as the transformation of existing structures to compact and community-based living arrangements for older people.

    The recently published book is based on contributions to the international symposium on “Sustainable Urban Development at Different Scales”, organized by ITAS in cooperation with the Florida Institute of Technology and the Budapest University of Technology and Economics in 2014.

    Bibliographic data

    Albiez, Marius; Banse, Gerhard; Lindeman, Kenyon C.; Quint, Alexandra (ed.): Designing Sustainable Urban Futures. Concepts and Practices from Different Countries. Karlsruhe: KIT Publishing 2016

    Publishing information and free download

  14. 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!
  15. 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.



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