Fraunhofer tested a new governance format for a sustainable urban development – Local stakeholders gain benefits from the usage of digital technologies

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The city of Ludwigsburg is in the second phase of the ‘Zukunftsstadt Wettbewerb’ (City of the Future Competition) of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). The aim of the initiative is to promote sustainable urban development. In this context, the city of Ludwigsburg and the Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Engineering (IAO) organize three Makeathons to accompany the transformation of the Ludwigsburg district ‘Weststadt’ within a co-creative process. The first of the three Makeathons took place in July 2017, which was conceived and led by the Fraunhofer city expert Nora Fanderl. We talked to her about her work with regards to the project and found out more about the events, the underlying goals and the new opportunities linking topics of digital technologies and participation.

 

 

1. Hello Nora. Ludwigsburg is in phase II of the City of Future competition of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). What kind of competition are we talking about and what role do the Makeathons play in it?

 

N.F.: The ‘Zukunftsstadt’ competition of the BMBF aims to promote holistic and sustainable urban development as a cooperation project between politics, citizens, science, administration and industry. Ludwigsburg is currently in the second phase of the competition, which comprises a total of three phases. In the first phase, a sustainable and holistic vision for the city of Ludwigsburg was developed. The second phase is now about the transformation of the vision into development roadmaps with clearly defined projects. The current phase aims to secure further funding to implement the concepts within the framework of phase three in 2018.


The three Makeathons, which take place in the ‘Weststadt’ of the City of Ludwigsburg, are taking place in the context of the second phase of the competition. Our goal is to test with the Makeathons a new form of co-creation, tackling the issue of sustainable urban development in a dedicated process with the local stakeholders, particularly addressing the potential and challenges of digital technologies.

 

2. “Makeathon” is a fairly commonly used term in urban development circles these days, but many don’t know what it actually entails. What exactly is a Makeathon and how has it been designed in Ludwigsburg?

 

N.F.:  The term ‘Makeathon’ is a neologism coming from the word ‘make’ and ‘marathon’, whereby the marathon stands for a group activity with an above-average length. The Makeathons in the city of Ludwigsburg are piloted as a new governance format for co-creative processes in urban development. Instead of a top-down planning approach, a large number of local actors across a wide range of disciplines and from different living environments is involved in the planning and development process. However, in contrast to conventional participation formats, such as round table or the citizens' gathering formats, where information, consultation and co-determination are at the forefront, the Makeathon format is not limited to the aspects of information, consultation and co-determination but to catalyze local creativity and "make" and "produce" tangible results in a collaborative way. In a designed process, local creative minds, citizens, local businesses and the city administration are guided to address urban challenges together and to develop creative ideas and solutions through joint design, experimentation and prototyping.

 

3. The event called StadtLABOR was the prelude to two more events, called - STREET and STADTRAUM. How do the three events relate to each other and in what aspects do they differ?

 

N.F.: The first Makeathon, which took place under the title "StadtLABOR", aimed to create a space for communication, interaction and co-operation between citizens, local businesses and the city administration within a vacant production hall. The StadtLABOR will function as an incubator for the future development of its surrounding area, the Ludwigsburg’s transformation district ’Weststadt’, and provides space and equipment for further Makeathons, community-building events and City-Citizen-Business dialogue. Accordingly, the guiding question at the first Makeathon was to define the requirements for the StadtLABOR space and to develop and implement a corresponding room design. Results where, for example, a series of workbenches, a communication area, an interactive city model and a digital information and communication layer, including augmented reality applications, were developed.

 

4. What are you planning for the two following Makeathons?

 

N.F.: The subsequent Makeathons will take place in the premises of the StadtLABOR, and will address the development and design of the district. The subject of the next Makeathon will presumably be "future mobility and street design", with the area around the StadtLABOR functioning as the test field for prototyping. Whether the jointly developed solutions will be a pop-up furniture system, an augmented reality information system, a creative reuse of parking spaces or a sensor based mobility tracking system is completely open and will be defined during the co-creation process. The development of new solutions is thereby ensured through the process design, based on the concept of swarm intelligence and open innovation: Participants bring in their creativity potential and knowledge, future users contribute by introducing their demands, companies bring along their technology expertise and the city administration contributes the urban planning and development perspective.

 

 

5. Augmented and virtual reality technologies are regularly utilized in the Makeathon approaches. How do you foresee this in Ludwigsburg and what is the use of this technology for the urban development processes? 

 

N.F.: The application possibilities of the technologies in co-creation processes for urban development are versatile and enable a totally new way of communication within the urban space. For example via augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) ideas can be directly displayed via visualizations, 3D-models or animations. Via user interfaces like smartphone apps citizens can retrieve the digital information layer of their surrounding space and have the possibility to interact, e.g. though an online-platform designed to add comments, questions or uploading own ideas. The application of technologies thus enables a new way of communication in the urban space and can stimulate the dialogue between citizens and the city administration about the future of the city.

 

6. Can you describe the actual process of a Makeathon?

 

N.F.: The Makeathon format comprises 1.5 days totaling 15 hours. In order to quickly reach the development of solutions and convert them straight onto the implementable stage, the Makeathon process is divided into three main phases: In the first phase the guiding questions is presented and participants are introduced into the available analog and digital materials as well as the respective tools. In the second phase, ideas will be generated though group work. The resulting ideas will be tested, adjusted and transferred into prototypes in the third “hands-on” phase, which comprises the majority of the Makeathon.  

 

 

7. In addition to Fraunhofer IAO, the creative office ‘’Tinkertank’’ is also responsible for the organization of the Makeathons. How did you divide up the tasks and what does the cooperation between the two look like? 

 

N.F.: The Makeathon is a mutual cooperation project between the Fraunhofer IAO and the city of Ludwigsburg. Together with Tinkertank, a Ludwigsburg-based creative agency, which has a large network of stakeholders of the local creative industry and is specialized in the facilitation of co-creation processes, the Makeathons were organized and implemented. The role of Fraunhofer IAO lies in the conception and integration of professional expertise. My colleague Sven Dübner from the team Urban Data and Resilience, brings in the digital technology experience, while my focus is on the smart city and urban governance perspective.

 

 

8. The Makeathons are intended to provide impulses for the transformation of Ludwigsburg’s ‘Weststadt’. What has to be done with the area and what are the objectives of these event series?

 

N.F.: The ‘Weststadt’ district was defined by the city of Ludwigsburg as a transformation area and exhibits enormous development dynamics. With the Makeathons, one wants to pick up the development potential in a joint approach with the local citizens and stakeholders. With the Makeathons a new governance format is tested, which goes beyond classic participation approaches. Depending on varying urban needs, the format can be applied to other neighborhoods or cities, addressing societal-relevant questions to the urban space in the future.

 

 

9. In your opinion, what has to be paid a particular attention when facilitating a Makeathon?

 

N.F.: It is important to understand that the Makeathon is not so much about the outputs as it is about the process. More important is putting the right constellation of actors - both public and private - together, bringing to the table a variety of ideas, their own needs and aspirations, abilities and knowledge. The direct results are to be considered as an interim output, ready for further development and transfer into urban development roadmaps and strategies. For the transfer with a high impact, interaction patterns and personal networks developed during the process should be continued beyond the project to maximize the overall outcomes.

 

Thank you for the interview and we wish you lots of success for the upcoming events.

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