Institute for Sustainable Urbanism

Since October 2012, ISU is lead by Prof. Dr. Vanessa Miriam Carlow, within TU Braunschweig's Department of Architecture, Engineering, and Environmental Sciences. ISU is part think-tank, part design laboratory, committed to promoting research and scholarship on sustainable urbanism in an international and interdisciplinary setting. Since its founding, ISU has worked with partners in Africa, Asia, South America, USA, and all over Europe. ISU has four themes under which its teaching and research projects fall: Space as Resource, City in Society, Impossible Sites, Urban-Rural Relations, Sustainability Criteria, and Digital Urbanism.

"Sustainable Urbanism" These two words represent the biggest challenge and the biggest hope of our generation. The Institute for Sustainable Urbanism (ISU) seeks to explore, co-design, engineer, and promote all strata of sustainable development. In its continuous strive toward progressive research, ISU founded a state of the art, multidisciplinary research and competence center on urban research rooted in the digital realm - the ISU SPatial Analytics + Cross-disciplinary Experimentation Lab (ISU SPACE LAB).

Cities play a crucial role in confronting the challenges of real sustainability in our collective future. By sustainability we mean the long-term viability of our society, encompassing factors such as the social and economic flourishing of people, responsible resource-consumption, livability of the habitat, and the thriving of the natural environment. By urbanism we mean all of the systems, members, and forces, visible and invisible, which constitute today's interconnected, globalized society.

Cities, after all, are the biggest consumers of natural resources, including human, and also some of the most vulnerable places threatened by climate change. But they are the nexus of power, influence, human and natural resources, culture, ideas, and creativity. As such, cities are key sites of opportunity in making steps toward real sustainability.

In facing the various challenges in contemporary urbanism, the Institute for Sustainable Urbanism (ISU) seeks to 1) identify stable as well as newly emerging phenomena in contemporary urban development, and 2) come up with ways to explain and manipulate such phenomena, ultimately contributing to a better understanding of what constitutes sustainable development. In order to extend the catalogue of sustainable solutions, we use a highly cooperative inter- and trans-disciplinary approach.

The ISU Space Lab expands possibilities of progressing the digital realm of urbanism. With the lab we explore data, methods, processes and infrastructures routed in the digital. Transgressing the disciplinary limits of architecture, urban design, and planning we investigate a) better participatory planning processes, b) develop methods of anticipating, streamlining and optimizing the use of resources, including physical space and c) develop tools to understand the needs of urban space and infrastructure users better. The goal of our work is to investigate inherited and "conventional" methods of urban design to elevate them to todays needs through an explorative and hypothesis-driven research into sustainable urbanism.

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