The question of how we can equip our cities to meet the challenges of the future is close to all our hearts. These challenges are significant, and they can only be solved through a multilateral mind-set – a place precisely at the overlap between disciplines, through active collaboration and the sharing of information; a place where we uncover the potential to think about future urban architectural developments in a new way. A better way.
One of the players generating the most buzz in this field is the Morgenstadt Network, which grew out of the German federal government’s ongoing high-tech strategy. This network is made up of numerous Fraunhofer institutes, municipal authorities and companies. The German Sustainable Building Council (DGNB) is a strategic partner of the initiative, making contributions through its wide-ranging expertise. The initiative and the research strategy it is based on draw on a methodology that is highly similar to the DGNB system. In both cases, the way questions are asked and explored is based on a holistic approach, drilling down into different topics, criteria and indicators. The Morgenstadt initiative examines some 80 action areas related to energy, modern transport solutions, construction, innovation, governance, etc. The aim is to understand the sustainable city of the future and start specific projects.
But how can the vision of a sustainable, versatile and liveable city be turned in to a reality? Concepts for doing just this will be presented at the Urban Features Fraunhofer conference held on 25 and 26 November 2015 in Berlin. A range of key professionals will come to the event from all over Europe, many of them already working on the cities of tomorrow. The idea is to provide a place for visionary thinkers to sketch their ideas of future strategies, urban technologies, municipal experiments, new forms of collaboration and much more. One highlight is certain to be what they have to say about their experiences with flagship developments; I believe this will deliver important insights into the discussion surrounding future cities.
One of the many sessions I am personally looking forward to is Civic participation 4.0: Smart citizens as engines of change. Initiatives started in society are a key element when we think about the city of tomorrow. Of course, technological achievements are always an important driver of innovation in urban development, but if we only look at the technology side of things, we will struggle to master future challenges. In my opinion, if the city of tomorrow was based on an equation, it would be the sum of innovation and participation – although this will have to take many forms, some of which have yet to be developed.