Dummy testbed "Kleiner Grasbrook"


© gmp

From January to April 2018 we were doing the first comprehensive test of the developed U_CODE process. For this we used real data about the urban planning project redeveloping the quarter “Kleiner Grasbrook” in Hamburg. The Kleine Grasbrook is a district in Hamburg- Mitte of the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg. In the small Grasbrook are almost exclusively facilities of the Port of Hamburg. Since the handling of goods has shifted further to the west due to the use of containers in the container terminals located downstream, many areas are fallow, so that a re-use of the area is planned. The area was also designated as the venue for the 2024 or 2028 Olympic Games. The former inland island lies between Veddel (upstream), Steinwerder (downstream) and Wilhelmsburg in the south. On the opposite side of the Norderelbe lies the formerly connected island Großer Grasbrook, which is adjoined by the center of Hamburg. The name component -brook refers to the fact that it used to be a low-lying, humid, broken land. As part of the U-CODE project (Urban Collective Design Environment Professional Design Brief), a sub-area is planned and redesigned.

KleinerGrasbrook_001c.png© gmp

The aim of the urban planning concept is to locate the area in the existing ensemble and one train new address in Hamburg. On the one hand, the design promotes the readability of the spatial edges, on the other hand, it defines various open spaces and space structures. The guiding principle is to organize the district in its complexity and to link individual public structures. Both the positions and the shapes of the new buildings bring about a deliberate reorganization of the area with the goal of making clear open space typologies legible. Concise, usable and attractive open spaces are being developed, supporting a shift from the place of industry to the place of active living and working. construction The building construction is economically chosen with regard to manufacturing, operating and maintenance costs. The selection of materials took place under the aspect of ecological sustainability. In essence, the use of concrete, steel and glass is suggested as these materials are fully recyclable are. In addition, the concrete construction has a high energy efficiency and a long service life, so that only small additional life cycle costs are to be expected. For all structural component connections, thermal bridge-free details are chosen.


Long U_CODE-Imagevideo

Telling the U_CODE story means asking three basic questions in the context of urban planning projects. First, what is the issue why urban planning projects are often criticized by a lot of groups especially by the public? The answer is about the lack of participation and feeling not having any opportunity to jointly organize the environment where you are living in. Second, who plays a role in changing that? Making it easy: everybody, and especially you! You as an expert for your environment are addressed by U_CODE to take part in urban planning projects and propose your knowledge and ideas to the professional designers and authorities. Third, how are you supposed to do that? Via easy-to-handle tools, which enables everybody collectively to express his or her idea, opinion or knowledge, thus taking part throughout the urban planning project. But let’s skip the words for now and let the video speak, telling you everything about the U_CODE idea and process…


Short U_CODE-Imagevideo

Time is scarce, but to describe the U_CODE story in a nutshell you only need a lot of people, a current urban planning topic to work on and some easy-to-handle tools to harvest ideas and to let them release their inner creativity. Putting all this in the U_CODE process means to include the wisdom of the crowd as early as possible in an urban planning project, letting them release their inner expertise on their environment by co designing together with the actual professionals using easy-to-handle tools. Or you can also watch this small video below…


Method database for participation tools

To get an overview of different participant tools, a query can be carried out on the U_CODE website.
The database contains over 70 methods for public participation. You can do a pre-search by using dropdown-menues for the name of the process, the category and subcategory, if the tool is available for online participation and the number of participants. Moreover you can use a search form for direct search. After choosing one of the entries you will get more information about this tool, like for example a short description, some references and about strength and weakness.

For more information, just click on the following link or the image below:



Scenario workshop in Dresden

On April 20 2017, a scenario workshop with colleagues of the TUD Media Center was held at TU Dresden. The aim of the workshop was to identify scenarios for digital participation processes. Primary outcome of the workshop was to sequence the process of getting user feedback. We distinguish the steps: Engaging - Presentation - Feedback.
It was the first phase to develope a prototype to test the method for ranking, voting and gamification. For this reason, further workshops will follow.


Places, advertising & participation tools



U_CODE-article for the IFIP EGOV-EPART 2017 Conference in St. Petersburg
"Child's play - A literature based survey on gamified tools and methods for fostering public participation in urban planning"

IFIP-logoAs urban planning processes are often complex and protracted, fostering public participation in this sector has to be seen as a major challenge. Nevertheless, previous research on that topic offers various solutions that aim to tackle that problem, either by focusing on playful formats or on gamification and serious gaming. Often examined separately, these approaches deliver promising strengths to improve public participation in the urban sphere. Hence, a synopsis of those strategies seems to be worthwhile and is therefore further investigated by this paper. In order to analyze current works on that issue systematically, the paper is structured via a literature-based classification of different stages of public participation that distinguish whether citizens are being informed, consulted or collaborated with during the planning process. By giving an insight on innovative participation tools and methods in this field, the pursued outcome of this article are impulses for designing an advanced participatory platform which is part of the research project.

© 2017 The Authors. Published by Springer. Peer-review under responsibility of IFIP EGOV-EPART.
This U_CODE-article will be published at Springer


U_CODE-article for the KES-2017 in Marseille
"How to involve inhabitants in urban design planning? An overview on a state of the art, key challenges and promising approaches"

KES-logoDifferent cases of public disagreement in different European countries have shown recently that perusing a thorough planning pro-cess is by no means a guarantee for a broad public acceptance of an envisioned urban project. Consequently, the employment of digital media and tools to enable participation of inhabitants in urban planning processes on a massive scale is a promising, but currently not comprehensively analyzed approach. Our research activities are intended to gain an overview on a state of the art of research on communication channels, methods and best practices as well as to identify key challenges and promising strategies and tools to overcome these challenges with specific regards to large numbers of users and digital supported approaches. The latter aspects comprise the investigation of phenomena like participant selection, framing effects and gamified approaches for digital-mediated participatory processes as well as native language processing techniques to examine opinions as well as ideas of relevance from massive public feedback. To examine, we performed literature reviews of several hundred research articles, investigated cases in Germany, France and the Netherlands by interviews and workshops with stakeholders and employed methods of prototyping to conceptualize, develop and assess some promising approaches such as sentiment analysis in detail.

© 2017 The Authors. Published by Elsevier B.V. Peer-review under responsibility of KES International.
This U_CODE-article will be published in Elsevier's Procedia Computer Science open access journal


U_CODE meeting in Delft

On the 1st of March the U_CODE project team came together at TU Delft for another three day workshop to update each other on the current state of work, to make progress on urgent tasks and to reach a common understanding and agreement on the next steps of the project. This meeting focused mainly on the preparation of the yearly review of the project by the European Commission, therefore all project partners prepared and held presentations about the projectprogress which were all aligned within a so-called "U_CODE Storyline".
Besides minor remarks by the reviewers the project progress and outlook was evaluated positively and acknowledged with great potential considering the possible impact for urban planning projects. The next step will be the transformation from the methodological and conceptual part to the development and implementation part of the project with the objective to generate a flexible tool to support stakeholders in participatory planning projects To verify the developed methodology of the Minimal Viable Process in combination with the tentative functional component architecture a test run has been done to discover missing parts and process deficits. Both will be developed further towards the next meeting in May in Dresden to provide a starting point for the software development phase which will be the major part in the second project year of U_CODE.


detailed picture


U_CODE Project meeting in Dresden

From November 30 until December 2 2016, a new U_CODE project meeting was held at TU Dresden, bringing all major partners to the table to discuss and agree on the MVP of U_CODE. In different sessions, it was worked on an terminology and use case Wiki, a survey of co-design methodologies and work distinction.


News Meeting Dresden, People working

© Martin Balßuweit, TU Dresden


Co-Design workshop in Dresden

On November 11 2016, a co-design workshop with representatives of the Urban Planning department of Dresden city and local real estate developer / project managers, TUD Knowledge Architecture Lab and TUD Media Center was held at TU Dresden. The purpose of the workshop was to line out potential workflows and interaction processes for participatory urban design.


Dissemination and Communication Plan for Period 1, including U_CODE Public Website v1 PDF Version

It is the aim of U_CODE to communicate and disseminate project results as widely as possible, targeting several important audiences, including end-users of the space being designed, professionals in urban design across Europe, public authorities but also academia and the broader public. Several communication and dissemination activities are described in this document including a brief description of the first version of the U_CODE public website.

Survey on Co-design methodologies in urban design (initial version) PDF Version

Deliverable 2.1, "Survey on co-design methodologies in urban design (initial version)" is about:

  1. establishing a deeper understanding of the dynamics of Co-Creation processes;
  2. reviewing existing community-based tools and methods with a special focus on
  3. game-based approaches;
  4. providing insight in the impact of cultural differences and legal frameworks within different European countries.

This report (and its sub studies) cover this broad spectrum of topics and additionally aims to provide already some initial guidelines and requirements for the U_CODE designers and developers. Research methods and analysis include literature research, reviews, expert interviews, systematic internet research, case studies and discussions within the U_CODE team.

Data Management Plan D1.3 (D4) PDF Version

In this report the initial Data Management Plan (DMP) for the U_CODE project is presented. The report outlines how research data will be handled during and after the project duration. It describes what data will be collected, processed or generated with which methodologies and standards, whether and how this data will be shared or made open, and how it will be curated and preserved.

The Data Management Plan (DMP) describes the data management life cycle for all data sets. The purpose of the DMP is to provide an analysis of the main elements of the data management policy that will be used in U_CODE with regard to all data sets that will be generated by the project. The data collected and generated by the different U_CODE partners will have multiple formats. In general four different types are generated and processed 1.) text based data, 2.) visual based data sets, 3.) models, and 4.) software / source code data sets.


Co-Design workshop in Dresden

On November 11 2016, a co-design workshop with representatives of the Urban Planning department of Dresden city and local real estate developer / project managers, TUD Knowledge Architecture Lab and TUD Media Center was held at TU Dresden. The purpose of the workshop was to line out potential workflows and interaction processes for participatory urban design.


U_CODE-article in the BIM Magazine
"I code, u_code, we code - massive civic participation in urban planning"PDF Version

Cover of BIM Magazine November 2016We all have seen this on TV: citizens stand up outraged on the streets, blocking bulldozers from doing their work. Construction work is stopped by citizens who believe they need to protect their city and their interests. But protect against whom? All regulatory procedures have been completed. Planning procedures, public disclosure, a period to hear opposing arguments, a consultation procedure. Who ever wanted to could have a say! But often, there is just silence between urban planners and the public. This is not only potentially disastrous for the contractors involved, but also for the taxpayer who funds the project.

This U_CODE-article in the BIM Magazine gives a general overview of U_CODE and puts it into the context of BIM. The original version is in german and will be published in Nov. 2016. Buy and download (print or pdf) at or


Wiki for the project "Urban Collective Design Environment" (U_CODE)

WikiMedia IconThis Wiki was put on for the project U_CODE to create and capture knowledge in as much as possible collaborative ways and to establish common knowledge and idea bases. The Wiki is not supposed to be a public one.


PanEuropean Networks Publications (August 2016, issue 19, page 182)PDF Version

"The U_CODE Project introduces a new tool for citizen communication and co-creation in urban design"

Cover of PanEuropean Networks Publication Issue 19In the future, professional designers will design cities in close co-operation with the citizenship. Beyond technocratic planning, the shaping of our urban realm will become a democratic process in which civic stakeholders participate as co-creators and co-designers. From the beginning of a project, citizen experts will contribute their experience, opinions and ideas, and keep an active voice throughout the design and development process. Positive public commitment, constructive discussion, and high identification with projects will emerge from this new form of co-creation.




© Paneuropean Networks Government 8/16




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