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. 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:

  3. 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“

  4. 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.

  5. 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):

  6. 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

  7. 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:

  8. 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

  9. 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

  10. 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!
  11. 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.
  12. 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 

  13. 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!

  14. Sustainability 2014: Pathways to the sustainable city

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    In May 2014, the District Future – Urban Lab hosted the international conference Sustainability 2014: Future Urban Development at Different Scales 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) as well as the KIT Humans and Technology Center. About 80 national and international experts from different discpilines had followed the invitation. During three intense conference days, they reflected on current challanges and perspectives of sustainable urban development at different scales – ranging from the neighborhood to urban region. The result was an active exchange of information, vivid as well as critical discussions, and the intensification of the networking at the international level for follow-up activities such as joint projects in research and practice.

    Further impressions of the conference can be found in the gallery.

    The conference offered a rich program of talks and discussions, with plenary sessions and parallel workshop-type sessions, as well as thematic excursions. After the opening by Prof. Dr. Wilfried Jüling, Chief Information Officer at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, and Prof. Dr. Armin Grunwald, Head of the Institute for Technology Assessment and Systems Analysis, the conference began by situating the topic within the current debate. In his contribution, Prof. Dr. Markus Neppl addressed the development of the concept of the Sustainable City and analyzed its application based on current case studies. The presentation by Prof. Dr. Kerstin Gothe dealt with current challenges of sustainable urban development and the associated need for integrated planning and development. Maria Balouktsi and Dr. Jan Hogen offered valuable insights into sustainability assessment. Their presentations focused on the assessment of new and existing districts as well as on the aims and benefits of assessment systems.

    During the second day of the conference, three parallel sessions addressed the topics of “Sustainable Urban and District Development – Actors, Instruments and Logics of Action”, “City and District – Designing the Existing”, and “Sustainable Development of Universities”. The third day of the conference was dedicated to the challenges of sustainable urban development, focusing on the areas “Mobile City”, “Just City”, and “City Resources”

    During thematic excursions in Karlsruhe and Heidelberg, offered on May 8 and 9, conference participants had the opportunity to deepen their understanding of the issues addressed in the presentations and discussions. In Karlsruhe, the project “Albgrün District” and the “energy hill” at Rheinhafen were visited. All in all, there was plenty of space and time for discussion, networking and fruitful exchange.

    The website of ITAS offers detailed information on the conference, including the conference programm, abstracts and presentation slides. The proceedings are expected to be published by the end of 2014.

  15. International Conference Sustainability 2014

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    In cooperation with the transatlantic research initiative “Forum on Sustainable Technological Development in a Globalizing World” and the KIT Humans and Technology Center District Future – Urban Lab hosts the international conference Sustainability 2014: Future Urban Development at Different Scales. The conference will takte place on May 6th to 9th 2014. Registration will be open until April 21th 2014.


    Future Urban Development at Different Scales

    Climate change, shortage of resources, demographic change, increasing burden of public debt, deterioration of the ecological sphere, social inequality and fragmentation: these and other challenges call for a comprehensive sustainable development on a global and local scale. Cities play a major role in such an overall change of society towards a sustainable way of life. This is revealed by the proclamation of the urban age, growing rural-urban interdependencies and the accountability of urban areas as venue, driver and capability space.

    Sustainability 2014: Future Urban Development at Different Scales brings together national and international experts from science and practice with different disciplinary backgrounds like urban geography, economics, architecture, sociology, geoecology and urban planning to examine and discuss challenges and perspectives of the sustainable development of urban spaces. They will address and reflect on questions on the future development and analysis of urban systems on different levels of scale – ranging from urban region to neighborhood. The conference will especially concentrate on the district and neighborhood as a level for analysis, assessment and action which is increasingly becoming the focus of attention in science and politics.

    Objective of the conference

    Apart from the scientific exchange, the conference will also provide a framework for international networking in the range of topics and determine possibilities and ways to initiate follow-up activities like joint projects or research cooperations.


    • The conference deals with the following topics:
    • City and District – Pathways Towards a Sustainable Development
    • City and District – Sustainability Assessment
    • Sustainable urban and district development – Actors, Instruments and Logics of Action
    • City and District – Designing the Existing
    • Sustainable Development of Universities
    • Sustainable Development of City and District – Challenges for Selected Areas: Mobile City | Social City | City Resources

    The detailed program can be found at the Institute of Technology Assessments and Systems Analysis‘ website.

    Organization & registration

    For registration contact Marius Albiez until April 21th 2014. The participation at the conference is free of charge. Participation is limited. The conference language is English.

  16. 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

  17. District Future starts in Karlsruhe Oststadt

    Comments Off on District Future starts in Karlsruhe Oststadt

    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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