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Fraunhofer is designing the city of the future in an interdisciplinary network.

© Fraunhofer IBP - Morgenstadt

Where and how humans live is changing dramatically: more and more people are moving to large cities and away from traditional rural areas. Today, 3.5 billion people already live in metropolises – that is over half of the world population. According to forecasts, by the year 2050 three quarters of then anticipated ten billion human beings will live in towns and cities. Against this background, the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft is focusing on the central question of how today’s cities can develop the capabilities to cope with the future flood of people. “Morgenstadt – City of the Future” is the name of a project in which researchers from different disciplines are collaborating with partners from cities and industry to think about the urban future.

Developing alternatives to today’s megacities

Today, the world’s megacities already consume three-quarters of all resources, producing large quantities of waste and greenhouse gases in the process. Morgenstadt is the alternative to this development: it is meant to be urban, but bring together people’s work and life. Travelling short distances to work means less traffic, less noise, fewer traffic jams and lower energy consumption. Morgenstadt consists of districts that generate electricity and heat themselves; their inhabitants drive electric cars that also act as electricity storage units and live in intelligent houses where old people can live comfortably and safely too.

Sustainability, renewable energies and digitalisation will go hand in hand in the city of the future to offer its inhabitants the highest possible quality of life. “The transformation of our cities must be realised in an intelligent way so that they remain liveable for the people there,” says Professor Hans-Jörg Bullinger, President of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, the largest organisation for applied research in Europe. The network also organises a global competition, the Morgenstadt City Challenge. The winners receive a wide-ranging research and consulting package tailored to their specific situations. The current round of applications ends on 30 June 2016. Previous winning cities have included Prague, Chemnitz, Lisbon and the German capital Berlin.

The project also includes the Morgenstadt Innovation Network, which is currently made up of 15 cities, 25 companies and 10 Fraunhofer institutes. New solutions and strategies for the future of cities are being developed using an interdisciplinary approach. Fraunhofer maintains over 60 different research institutes, and according to Bullinger 50 of them could contribute to the Morgenstadt project. A working model that can help municipalities reorganise in a more sustainable way has already been published in book form. It is based on six comprehensive cities analyses (Berlin, Freiburg, Copenhagen, New York City, Tokyo, Singapore) and a hundred case studies. The winners of the Morgenstadt City Challenge are encouraged to apply the Morgenstadt model on their path towards greater sustainability.