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19th European Roundtable on Sustainable Consumption and Production – Circular Europe for Sustainability: Design, Production and Consumption

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Living Labs for research and education about Sustainable Housing, Technologies and Lifestyles at the ETSAV School of Architecture of UPC

Unsustainable resource consumption, GHG emissions and related climate change impacts are recognized results of our current model of consumption and production in so-called developed societies. In an increasingly complex world, with a constant growing amount of specialised knowledge, competence-based, real-world related learning is recognized as important method in higher education fostering e.g. in the fields of architecture and engineering the capacity of a holistic approach to these societal challenges, complementary to a traditional, disciplinary knowledge acquisition. Universities and especially schools of architecture, have an important role and a specific potential in this context. New forms of teaching and learning, fostering specific Sustainable Development (SD) related competences through experience-based and participatory learning processes with a holistic, pluridisciplinary view on sustainability, can strengthen their role in this transformation process. New approaches in the fields of research and innovation like open innovation processes and Living Lab ecosystems can overlap with these advanced SD related teaching and learning activities to mutual benefit from generated synergies. Living Labs e.g. can adopt the function of incubators for societal outreach regarding knowledge dissemination and the approach to societal challenges, generating projects and collaborations, which strengthen the role of university as an important change agent of society. Universities have a great opportunity to understand their own buildings and places as Living Labs or Campus Labs, facilitating these new approaches. UPC through its ETSAV School of Architecture uses since 2010 the Living Lab methodology based on its Solar Decathlon prototype Solar houses. Currently the fourth prototype is under construction and a corresponding post-competition use concept as Living Lab is under development. Living Lab LOW3, as the first of these Living Labs at UPC, is an educational research project under continuous development since 2011. During the last 8 years, a series of innovative teaching and learning activities has been implemented. Through qualitative and quantitative research methods the contribution of LOW3 to a holistic trans-disciplinary education in sustainability has been assessed. The experimentation of new teaching formats, methods and tools, the link between formal and non-formal learning, the exploration of personal learning environments of participants and the synergies between teaching, research and innovation have been focus of this educational research project. As a result, a comprehensive list of transdisciplinary fields of knowledge will be presented, highlighting the ones which have been explored in the context of the LOW3 Living Lab. This allows to exemplify the unique approach and the opportunities that offer prototype buildings for SD related research and teaching in higher education.

Torsten Masseck
UPC BarcelonaTech


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