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Envisioning Urban Transitions – Creative methods and virtual imaginative futures for real community empowerment and co‐learning for building sustainable and resilient cities

Research project State of the art solutions and policy initiatives have not yet led to the needed speeding up of the energy transition. The communal uptake of available sustainable innovation in society needs boosting and municipalities are in need of more insight into citizen’s needs for reaching the set climate goals. In this light, participatory design methods and innovative tools such as virtual reality are emerging that could potentially aid.

This project aims to accelerate the EU’s energy transition towards carbon neutrality by 2050. It will develop creative techniques to engage citizens in urban planning, making sustainable measures more attractive and participatory. Research will be conducted in Latvia, Sweden, and The Netherlands to meet the needs of municipalities and stakeholders. The focus is on using interactive media and participatory design techniques for sustainable Urban Transitions. Umeå University leads one of the six work packages.

Head of project

Kailun Feng
Assistant professor

Project overview

Project period:

2023-12-14 2025-10-31

Participating departments and units at Umeå University

Department of Applied Physics and Electronics

Research area

Building technology, Energy engineering

External funding

Swedish Energy Agency

Project description

The long‐term goal in EU is to reach carbon neutrality by 2050, implementing the energy transition. However, on governmental, communal, and individual level, the most effective actions are often missed. We often lack the tools and communal knowledge‐how to speed up the energy transition, even though several measures, policies and technical solutions exist. What is needed are ways to engage citizens in urban planning in such ways that the existing measures are more attractive, effective, and participatory. The main question is thus: how can we commonly discuss, envision, and realize sustainable, inclusive transitions?

The proposed study aims to develop and test creative techniques, uncover and utilize their potential; support municipalities and their professionals in gaining insight into citizen needs and co‐creating the urban sustainable transition by empowering inhabitants in decision making processes and strengthening responsible ownership for a realistic ‘greener’ future.

The project conducts applied research in Latvia, Sweden and The Netherlands to identify and meet the needs and priorities of municipalities, communities and stakeholders. There are in total 6 working packages (WP) and Umeå University will lead WP4. This project focuses on collaboratively exploring creative imaginations using interactive media (emerging and playful technology such as VR/AR) and participatory design techniques for engaging communities and envisioning sustainable Urban Transitions.

External funding

Latest update: 2024-02-12