innovationon the U-Lab
U-Lab’s innovative character and potential to function as a model is contained within the following specific action areas:
a) Creating concrete links to the planning industry through cooperation with actors external to the university by means of current research and planning projects
U-Lab’s work is carried out in close collaboration with actors participating in planning projects, experts from other academic disciplines and civil society. Working together with cities and municipalities, U-Lab’s project managers design master course assignments that are worked on by students from planning related disciplines over a period of one to two semesters at the Institute of Architecture. During the mandatory courses, as well as in design and consolidation seminars, the students have opportunities to communicate and co-operate with the involved actors and gain insights into the daily lives of professional planners beyond what could be achieved during an internship.
b) Establishing integrative project work
U-Lab focuses on case study based and action-oriented teaching and learning. Due to the Urban Design focus, the courses are also open to Landscape Architecture and City and Regional Planning students. Interdisciplinary teams of students from four master courses—Architecture, Urban Design, City and Regional Planning and Landscape Architecture—collaborate on the projects. By working together in integrative teams, the students gain a better understanding of the different faculties’ positions. During the creative process U-Lab helps the students foster a strong desire to cooperate. In terms of methodology, U-Lab conducts basic research, field and “space of action” research. It employs participative planning approaches as well as communicating and co-operating with planning institutions. The results range from surveys, analyses and concepts for action plans and scenarios to the development of design projects.
c) Testing innovative forms of teaching and learning through the application of new media
New media are integrated into the course and complement more conventional forms of teaching. Using “Blended-Learning,” i.e. the integration of Web 2.0 technologies, strengthens U-Lab’s content and didactic approach. The introduction of this teaching approach tests innovative, internal university working methods and encourages efficient communication with external partners and the public.
d) Developing an archive of planning process materials and study projects
U-Lab is setting up an extensive archive of materials and information relating to planning processes in the studied areas. The online archive in particular will help U-Lab pave the way for ongoing, sustainable co-operations.