The way we organize our life in the cities is a crucial determinant of the success of sustainable development. Against this background, the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) establishes the "Urban Transition Lab 131" (R131) to integrate science, innovation, and urban development into a transdisciplinary process with citizens and other local actors (cf. WBGU 2011). This process addresses the district level which is especially suited since the residents identify themselves with their neighborhood and are thus more committed. The common societal objective of the actors of the Urban Transition Lab is to initiate and consolidate a comprehensive sustainable development of Karlsruhe's Oststadt, including a targeted advancement of the adjacent KIT itself. Its scientific goals are the generation, provision, and testing of the respective knowledge of systems, targets, and actions required for a sustainable transformation of existing cities and districts. Therefore practical goals together with research and educational aims represent the triangle of objectives of the Urban Transition Lab 131.
An urban transition lab can be seen as "a certain spatial and societal context for research and development, in which a variety and density of sustainability experiments take place. Main societal aims are initiating and fostering a culture of sustainability in a cooperative process of science, citizens and local stakeholders. Thereby knowledge about systems, aims and know-how is acquired through an explorative process. This knowledge shall be utilized for other contexts (model character)." (ITAS 2016)
The Urban Transition Lab focuses on four topics, identified as the bottom line of two different perspectives: the objectives of Karlsruhe's citizens which were developed in a participatory process on the one hand and the expertise of KIT on the other hand.
- Energy concept in the district Oststadt
- Mobility and consulting
- Social networks and aspects of urban planning
- Sustainable consumption
Five transdisciplinary R131 projects, one on each of these topics, form the core of the Urban Transition Lab activities. They were selected and defined in context of the "BürgerForum Sustainable Oststadt", a six-week participatory process with the active contribution of approx. 300 citizens and the brochure "BürgerProgramm" as a result. The first phase of the Urban Transition Lab will focus on the further inter- and transdisciplinary specification of the R131 projects and their assignment to focus groups. Actors with practical experience are and will continue to be actively involved in the realization of the projects.
The basis for the transdisciplinary work of the Urban Transition Lab are basal (inter-)disciplinary tasks like the collection of data in the project area or sustainability analyses and assessments as well as the close ties of the Urban Transition Lab to university teaching and advanced training provided by the Karlsruhe School of Sustainability. The internal, formative accompanying research ensures quality assurance and, if applicable, a fine adjustment of the individual activities of the Urban Transition Lab. The Urban Transition Lab 131 uses the "Future Space for Sustainability and Science" as transdisciplinary infrastructure and central room in the project area, an interface between KIT and the city, between science and practice which can be used as shared place of work, venue, and contact point for citizens.
The Urban Transition Lab 131 belongs to the KIT Center Humans and Technology, an interdisciplinary institution which bundles the activities of more than 20 KIT institutes to address the interdependencies between science/technology and society. The project core team is located at ITAS. The Urban Transition Lab is based on and embedded in the activities of the framework project "District Future – Urban Lab" which provides preliminary works and a solid base for the specific tasks of the Urban Transition Lab 131.
More information on the structure of the Urban Transition Lab and the focus of the R131 projects can be found here:
- Poster: Structure of Urban Transition Lab 131 (PDF)
- Poster: Overview Sustainability Experiments (PDF)
- Poster: Participation on the way to Urban Transition Lab 131 (PDF)