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Urban Infrastructure

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The restless urbanization dynamics of the 21st century have brought many challenges to our cities in terms of spatial organization and organization of the sustainable flow of scarce resources. Sustainable urban development is a key concept introduced to enhance (economic) development while coping with the challenges brought to the humanity and the global commons like land, climate, air and etc. Networked infrastructures such as energy, water, waste water, telecommunication, and transport systems guide and facilitate urban functioning and urban life in a multitude of ways, and the resource-efficient, affordable provision of and non-discriminatory access to infrastructure services becomes crucial to sustainable urban development. In short, the networked infrastructures are fundamental conduits through which modern cities operate. They function as backbones for urban livelihoods and economies, integrate (or splinter) cities socially and spatially, and mediate resource flows between nature and the city.

Under such a perspective, the urban infrastructure module, as a part of the broader context of Sustainable Urban Development Module, introduces the history, the key characteristics and the (ecological, social and economic) problems of these urban support systems, their co-evolution with urban developments and the imperatives for changing these systems face to the splintering of urban infrastructure, public health problems, and environmental degradation; while providing an overview and introduction to the issues of sustainable urban infrastructure development patterns, infrastructural crises, and debates on social and technical solutions to the infrastructure question at the course of sustainable spatial, environmental and infrastructure planning.

Module Objectives:

  1. Understand the history, the socio-technical nature, the key characteristics and functions of technical infrastructure in the (re-)production of cities.
  2. Foster an understanding of the co-evolution of and linkages between cities/regions and technical infrastructure.
  3. Raise awareness for and understand current trends, problems and policies in relevant infrastructure domains (water, wastewater, energy, telecommunication, waste, transport).
  4. Conduct empirical case studies and critically reflect and discuss the place-specific characteristics and distinct problems of urban infrastructures through the use of theoretical concepts such as ‘’large technical systems’’, ‘’inverse infrastructures’’, ‘’people as infrastructures’’, and ‘’splintering/splintered urbanism“.

Expected Outcomes:

On completion of this module students should:

  1. Understand the history, the socio-technical nature, the key characteristics and functions of urban infrastructure.
  2. Gain an understanding of the the co-evolution of and linkages between cities/regions and technical infrastructure.
  3. Gain an understanding of current trends, problems and policies in relevant infrastructure sectors.
  4. Apply their theoretical knowledge on a case study of their home city or a city they know well and discuss the place-specific characteristics and problems of urban infrastructure.

To access the lectures, including notes and instructions, exercise, case study or tool for decision making, contact the module developers Gul Tucaltan (G.Tucaltan@iwar.tu-darmstadt.de) or Prof. Dr. Jochen Monstadt (j.monstadt@iwar.tu-darmstadt.de), Darmstadt University of Technology.

Universities that are/have been part of co-funded projects by the Erasmus Mundus Programme are eligible to have full access to the module.

Creative Commons

All SUSTAIN materials are subject to the basic terms and conditions in accordance with the Creative Commons license agreement. Users should give credit to the SUSTAIN Project as well as to the module developer. Furthermore, users are not allowed to use any module material for commercial purposes without permission from the SUSTAIN Project and module developer.