Transforming Infrastructures for Sustainable Cities

Hub: Transforming Infrastructures for Sustainable Cities

Developing sustainable cities strongly depends on socio-technical systems that provide energy, water, mobility, waste and communication services. These systems are difficult to change and set the default for many decades. An interdisciplinary team of researchers together with societal partners will focus on the key question: how do we envision and identify pathways to cities and infrastructures of the future?

Hub leader
Geosciences - Human Geography and Planning - Economic Urban Transitions
Professor
Geosciences - Human Geography and Planning - Economic Urban Transitions
How do we envision and identify pathways to cities and infrastructures of the future?

Changing urban infrastructures towards sustainability

Developing sustainable cities strongly depends on socio-technical systems that provide energy, water, mobility, waste, and communication services. The research hub “Transforming Infrastructures for Sustainable Cities” sees urban infrastructures as key sites and vantage points of societal transitions to more sustainability transitions. However, those systems are highly path dependent and are interlaced with the built environments of cities, urban practices of production and use and embedded in a complex web of political interests and epistemic cultures. Changing urban infrastructures towards sustainability thus imposes exceptionally high requirements in terms of the transformation knowledge and practices for decision makers.

Objectives

The key objectives of the research hub are:

  • to explore and test transformative techniques and practices of urban ‘futuring’, urban experimentation, co-provision in cities around the world and their capacity to enable and sustain ‘deep’ transitions of multiple infrastructures
  • to understand the urban governance arrangements that shape the restructuring of urban and infrastructural transitions
  • to develop sustainability indicators and assessment tools to understand, evaluate and promote pathways to urban sustainability.
Share, validate, and co-create knowledge in ‘city learning labs’

Novel ways

The hub will bring together the system-analytical, target, and transformation knowledge of leading researchers at Utrecht University and will work closely together with stakeholders in novel ways to share, validate, and co-create knowledge in ‘city learning labs’ and transdisciplinary approaches.

Cross-domain analyses

The hub intends to stimulate empirical analyses and the development of transformative techniques and practices that look across sectoral and often ‘siloed’ systems (water, energy, solid waste, transportation etc.) within specific urban settings. We ask: what are the cumulative impacts of, and interactions between, urban transitions in different infrastructure domains with regards to circular economies, urban healthy living, urban resilience and inclusivity? The intention of such cross-domain analyses is to provide a broader basis for assessing urban pathways to sustainability.

The hub explores such pathways in a global perspective and will engage with urban regions that represent a diversity of spatial settings, technological cultures, transformative practices and governance settings: Randstad, Berlin, Toronto, Los Angeles, Nanjing, New Delhi, Dar es Salaam, São Paulo and Melbourne.