The City of the Future

Phase III: Empowering Citizens, Transforming Cities! (BEST)

What is the vision of the City of the Future and how can it be achieved? Ideas for a sustainable and environmentally just city are to be explored in a process of visioning (phase I), planning (phase II) and experimenting (phase III). A core element of the research project "Dresden – the City of the Future" is the participation of citizens. They are to be empowered to develop own visions of their city and design transition experiments to implement these visions. Through this research, new insights are to be gained on political planning and the governance of transition processes. This is to contribute to the research of the research area of „Transformative Capacities“.

Visioning (phase I)

During the first phase (2015-2016), the citizens of Dresden developed a vision of "Dresden – the City of the Future", which comprises more than 70 individual visions. They were created during a series of workshops ("Visioning") with 24 workshops.

Planning (phase II)

During the second phase (2017-2018), citizens drafted 95 project ideas and 24 concepts of transition experiments. These were developed during a series of workshops ("Planning") with 30 workshops.

Experimenting (phase III)

During the third phase (2019-2022), ten transitions experiments are implemented through a transdisciplinary process of co-production and co-evaluation with an interdisciplinary research team.

Research questions

Overarching research question

  • How can participatory governance approaches initiate, accelerate and stabilise urban transitions to sustainability?

Specific research questions

  • Which participatory governance approaches and policy instruments can enable urban transitions towards sustainability?
  • What are the potentials and the challenges of participatory governance approaches, based upon civil society engagement?
  • How can political-administrative structures, practices and cultures be redesigned to integrate the horizontal themes of sustainability and participation in specialised departments and enable transformative change?
  • How to create intermediary structures and actors to translate and mediate between the different languages of local politics and administration, civil society, the business community and academia?
  • How do transition experiments impact and possibly transform domains such as entrepreneurship, urban agriculture, mobility, recycling or food consumption?

Research design

The transition experiments are developed and implemented through a process of co-creation. Citizens (civil society and the business community), the City of Dresden, the Leibniz Institute of Ecological Urban and Regional Development and the Technische Universität Dresden - Laboratory of Knowledge Architecture (WA), the Chair of Business Management, esp. Sustainability Management and Environmental Accounting, the Institute of Waste Management and Circular Economy and the Chair of Traffic and Transportation Psychology - form an inter- and transdisciplinary research team:

Sustainable ways of doing, thinking and organising are to be explored through the following transition experiments:

  • The Car-free City of the Future - the Week of the Good Life
  • Material Flows Dresden
  • Sustainability Undertakings - The City of the Future for One Day
  • Participatory Budgeting for Sustainable and Active Neighbourhoods
  • Edible Public Green Spaces - Tended by Citizens
  • Edible Plauen
  • "Zur Tonne" - Container Restaurant
  • Co-Designing Schools as Living Spaces
  • Working Lab
  • AGORA Dresden

For further information, you are welcome to visit the project website and subscribe to the newsletter.

The Leibniz Institute of Ecological Urban and Regional Development is jointly funded by the federal government and the federal states.

FS Sachsen

This institute is co-financed by tax funds on the basis of the budget approved by the Saxon State Parliament.