Smart Campus Zernike – the miniature smart city: A HEADS-UP


02 mrt Smart Campus Zernike – the miniature smart city: A HEADS-UP

Smart what?

You are now connected to free WIFI” – in today’s world for many people an almost orgasmic sentence! Wherever you go people are staring intensively at their “smart” phones – Headphones plugged in and world out!
As a consequence, nowadays we live in two parallel worlds: the physical world and the virtual world. The latter one is continuously developing as an almost invisible network stretched out between transmitter and receiver. The physical world now is filled with all the meaningful places and the culture that inspire our identity.

Of course for us urban planners these developments feature some intriguing trends. In other words, we found a new playground for planning experiments.

We came up with Smart Cities, as we call them, trying to bridge the gap between the named two worlds and merge places with virtual spaces, i.e. technology with cities and citizens. Our aim is to make cities smarter, more efficient and sustainable. The overall goal is to create cities that its citizens experience as a more liveable space enabling them to live an interconnected life. “The smartest places, therefore, are those that combine the best of both the physical and virtual worlds, where presence and ‘tele presence’ are fused together at a location.” (Mitches, 1999, p. 143 in Walters, 2011, p.198)

Buzzwords! Buzzwords everywhere!

Smart, sustainable, efficient, liveable –these are all nice words in theory, but what do they really look like when they are translated into practice? Of course, the answer is: it depends! A one-size-fits-it-all approach for smartness, sustainability, efficiency or liveability simply does not exist. On Zernike we are currently investigating the smart potential of the campus, i.e. what smartness means in the context of campus life and how to translate it into practice. Zernike, with its city-like dynamics, gives us the opportunity to experiment with smart solutions, challenge our understanding of what constitutes a smart place and involve the users of the campus space in the process.

Together with different stakeholders, we developed four focus domains tailored to the campus with its opportunities and weaknesses: energy, mobility, health and fun & function. Whereas the domains energy, mobility and health represent common, yet important playgrounds for innovators and new technological solutions, fun and function provide space for creative implementation, which show the specific characteristics of Zernike’s users and diversify the space. Within these domains we want to create and test innovative, novel solutions for the future development of the campus.

Our common smartness

We approached the topic from various perspectives: Based on input from users of campus space, bachelor students developed smart strategies for Zernike’s future during one of their design studio classes. We interviewed best practice initiatives such as Smart City Vienna as well as actors relevant for Zernike. In addition, we made use of a new location-based questionnaire tool, asking about suggestions and feedback in an interactive manner. (link below)

Our vision of what constitutes a smart place differs from the common Information and Communication Technology (ICT) focused strategy and introduces an interactive, user-based approach towards smartness. In line with this we are currently preparing a workshop with selected companies in order to connect them with the project and integrate them in the process of making Zernike smarter.

If you have experience with Zernike, tell us what your dream campus of the future would look like with maptionnaire!
Link to the survey
All data will be treated confidentially and used anonymously and only for the purpose of this project.

For further questions or remarks you can get in touch with Harald:


partijen smart


Reference: David Walters (2011) Smart cities, smart places, smart democracy: Formbased codes, electronic governance and the role of place in making smart cities, Intelligent Buildings International, 3:3, 198-218, DOI:  0.1080/17508975.2011.586670

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