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KTH Vetenskap Och Konst
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Urban Environments and Social Life Research Platform - CAL Lab Program

Much of what urban designers and planners influence has to do with transformations of the built environment. The quality of urban and housing environments is then a very important aspect of urban and regional studies. The physical built environment and its interaction with the social structures of today’s cities is a complex field, in need of new cross-disciplinary research, employing both qualitative and quantitative approaches. The new research platform (CAL) located within the Division of Urban and Regional Studies will focus on urban environments and social life, having gravitas in the following four research themes:

The platform’s four research groups (themes) and our inquiries include contemporary urban design and planning paradigms, urban form and shape of city quarters, studies in housing, place-making and place-attachment, urban history, cultural heritage and cities and civilization, sustainable urbanism and ecological design, resilience, climate change and energy efficiency issues within neighborhood design and planning, public spaces, IPlaces and mediated spaces, renewal strategies for cities and regions, as well studies in international planning systems and urban design strategies. Our ambition is to develop a more nuanced understanding of how urban places & spaces are planned, shaped and composed; perceived, used, appropriated, managed and inhabited. We want to understand how cities can be sustained and adapted to the contemporary challenges and converging crises.

Based on the research activities of our present and coming researchers, graduate and post-graduate students, we will seek to propose new urban planning and design ideas as well as new contributions to urban theory through a range of active and engaging research projects in the lab. The Lab's members are actively engaged in supervision of masters of science thesis within the four research themes.

The aim of the Civitas Athenaeum Laboratory is to become a responsive focal point of academic research that is devoted to the shaping and designing of the built environments of cities.  This is obviously a critical mission in the wake of climate change and energy crises. Through directly addressing and influencing the dynamic forces and processes that shape and give life to our cities, networks, and landscapes, we aim to substantially improve the lives of human beings through positive changes in the built environments of cities.

The symbols of the CAL Lab (Ionic Column, Owl of Athena - Athene noctua and Godess Athena herself) carry meaning with an allusive edge. They are not just pures trademarks, signs, emblems or logos. Shantha Rajan points to the Significance of Symbols: "The phenomenon is transformed into a concept, or an idea by the symbol, the idea, in turn, is depicted into an image and the image captures the thinking faculty of the seeker and stays permanently there. Henceforth, every time he seeks the phenomenon, he has only to recall the symbol. Whether he attains the ultimate goal or not is another question." That these three symbols are embodied within the three words that make up CAL is not a coincidence. The carry a profund meaning and setting for our group: CIVITAS ATHENAEUM LABORATORY - A social body with shared responsibility, a common purpose and a sense of community [CIVITAS], An Institution for study or promotion of scientific learning [ATHENAEUM] and A room, building or institution equipped for scientific research [LABORATORY]

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