Urban Research at KIT

The Helmholtz Urban Research Initiative

Designing and developing cities are highly complex tasks of society. More than other challenges, they require the pooling of scientific, technical, and social knowledge. Science has to develop the fundamentals and to accompany their transfer to practice in close cooperation with implementation partners.

To meet the urgent need for substantiated basic know-how for decision-making in cities and urban areas, eight Helmholtz centers have agreed to cooperate across research fields in the Helmholtz Urban Research Initiative. They pool their wide range of expertise in an integrated urban research approach.

In phase 1 of this Helmholtz Urban Research Initiative – funded in 2015/16 by the Helmholtz Initiative and Networking Fund – , they developed the basic concept that is to cover relevant aspects of natural sciences, engineering, health, social sciences, architecture, and urban planning and to optimally use the strengths of the participating Helmholtz centers.

The Helmholtz Urban Research Initiative considers the city to be an integrated system. Like this, the initiative can make a scientific contribution to the “grand challenges” of future-oriented urban development. It is the ultimate goal of the initiative to develop comprehensive solution options for sustainable cities and to supply new knowledge for decision-making.


The following Helmholtz Centres cooperate under the Helmholtz Urban Research Initiative:

German Aerospace Center (DLR)

Forschungszentrum Jülich (FZJ)

Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research – UFZ

Helmholtz Centre Potsdam – German Research Centre for Geosciences (GFZ)

Helmholtz Zentrum Berlin für Materialien und Energie (HZB, Helmholtz Center Berlin for Materials and Energy)

Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht – Centre for Materials and Coastal Research (HZG)

Helmholtz Zentrum München – German Research Center for Environmental Health (HMGU)

Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), coordination

ESKP special collection - metropolises under pressure

Online dossier on the development of megacities, urban climate & quality of life, ressources, and natural hazards (in German).

Urban Rethinking - Developing liveable cities with research

Develop liveable cities thanks to research

Short article with interviews on urban research in the magazine "Helmholtz Perspektiven" of the Helmholtz Association, summer 2017 (in German)

KIT Coordinates Helmholtz Urban Research Initiative