Start feasibility study for real-life learning environment

News update – April 17th, 2019

There are high expectations for the cities of the future. People expect technology to make cities more intelligent and sustainable, and to create endless opportunities for everybody: inhabitants, companies and local governments alike. However, with these expectations, more questions than answers arise. Questions concerning privacy, fair business models, inclusion and equal share of benefits.

UNSense wants to take the next step in the conceptualisation and planning of smart cities, and to explore what the smart city – with all its interconnected processes, information streams and networks – would really look like and how it would operate. As a first step, we are developing a pilot project in the form of a small-scale real-life test environment; a smart neighbourhood of 100 homes within the Brainport Smart District (BSD) in the Dutch city of Helmond.

UNSense has initiated a feasibility study for the creation of this real-life learning environment. The learning environment will be one of a number of experimental projects that will take place in the Brainport Smart District for which UNStudio – architectural office and founding company of UNSense – has designed the urban plan, which contains 1.500 homes in total.

Nuanced approach

Real-life learning environments are challenging, as there are two conflicting forces at work. On one hand, we want to facilitate an experimental environment, one in which we can learn by doing through a process of trial and error and thus leave our options open. On the other hand, we want to work towards the achievement of clear goals and, during the process, draw concrete conclusions. It is through this constant dynamic between experimentation and the drawing of clear conclusions that the most nuanced image of the adaptive city of the future will eventually emerge.

UNSense places great value on a nuanced approach while investigating the feasibility of the learning environment. This is why this preparatory study is being carried out in close collaboration with local residents and (future) inhabitants. The main aim of the investigation will be to find out how technology and data can be implemented in cities to improve both people’s wellbeing and the environments in which they live.

Clear goals
Within this nuanced approach, we have also formulated a number of clear goals: with the 100 Houses project at Brainport Smart District, UNSense has the ambition to develop new standards and improved regulations for smart cities in general, such as:

* Respect for the privacy of the residents, for instance by giving people control over their own data.
The (future) residents will have control over their (personal) data at all times. Needless to say, AVG/GDPR regulations will be strictly followed. The goal of the experiment is to investigate how people, rather than companies, can benefit socially and economically from their own data. UNSense believes that the individual should be in the driver’s seat, deciding what to share with whom and for what purposes. Data will not be ‘sold on’ to third parties.

* Creating an equal playing field for residents, (local) service providers and governments, through public and private collaborations.

* Facilitate new local and fair business models that benefit the residents as well as the stakeholders.
Research shows that costs for housing, mobility and food are the biggest expenses for the average household. Together with partners, UNSense wants to develop new services for living, working, retail, food and energy production that will result in cost saving (by way of a reduction in day-to-day living expenses), while allowing the users/the residents of this living lab – to take control over their own data.

Read more about UNStudio’s  masterplan for Brainport Smart City