Reality lab “Sustainable urban development in a knowledge society”
The project “Sustainable urban development in a knowledge society” is funded for three years within the Innovation and Quality Fund (IQF) of the Ministry for Science, Research and the Arts of Baden-Württemberg. It is one of five so called ‘reality labs’ that will have a pioneering function in a new research design.
According to the call for tender, the context of reality labs “is the need to strengthen the contribution from science to develop society, economy and technology in a sustainable way that preserves the environment and protects the livelihood of future generations”.
Reality labs are supposed to become “places for research and transformation” in which societal challenges will be linked with inter – and transdisciplinary research and teaching designs. The reality lab at Heidelberg University comprises four subprojects: ‘Transformation of neighbourhoods’ (Institute of Geography/VHS/city library), ‘Innovative structures of participation’ (Institute for the Study of Christian Social Service/Institute of Gerontology/Innovatio), ‘Creating knowledge for the city’ (Geoinformatics/IFEU), ‘The meaning of relevant knowledge actor networks’ (Institute for Sociology/City of Heidelberg/BSG). Moreover, the establishment of an ‘Urban Office’ will promote the connection of scientist and become an interface which improves the communication between university, city, IBA and civil society.
The subproject ‘Innovative structures of participation and sustainable living concepts in the context of demographic change’ examines innovative and pioneering living concepts. For this reason, the Institute for the Study of Christian Social Service and the Institute of Gerontology provide scientific support for the development of a multigenerational house in the Heidelberg ’Bahnstadt’ district designed by the architecture firm Frey and the consulting office Innovatio.
The project tackles the problem of demographic change which will lead to an increased number of people aged over 80, while family networks and assistance will decline considerably due to declining birth rates.
Gerontological findings that show the importance of being needed even in old age will be taken into account during the development of the living concept. The project examines how the interplay of residents, institutional (service) providers and the use of technical assistance systems can promote participation and caring structures which result in suuportive ways of living. Constructional measures, welfare mix, mutual aid concepts and moderated civil dialogue will help to integrate people in different life situations in participation processes.
Based on the current state of research, in a first step the stakeholders’ needs regarding successful participation will be determined. The findings will be considered during the development of processes, co-operation, service offers and the use of technical assistance systems in order to ensure optimal and sustainable participation structures. Interim evaluations will serve to clarify key findings about network structures. These will be implemented in the model of the multigenerational house in order to generate optimization, but they will also help to formulate criteria so that the concept can be transferred to other projects.
Project partners: City of Heidelberg, IBA Heidelberg, Städtebauinstitut Stuttgart, ifeu Heidelberg, ZAK Karlsruhe, Innovatio Heidelberg.