KTH Vetenskap Och Konst

Welcome to the brand new homepage of CIVITAS ATHENAEUM LABORATORY (CAL) - Applied Social Science Research Platform at KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Urban and Regional Studies, Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm

A Message from Tigran Haas, CAL Director [Co-Director of CAL Lab is Dr. Elisabetta Troglio, Sr. Res.]

“You never let a serious crisis go to waste. And what I mean by that it's an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before.”
Rahm Emanuel, Mayor of Chicago, Former Chief of Staff for President Barack Obama

I am proud and delighted to introduce CAL – Civitas Athenaeum Laboratory (Applied Social Science Research Platform – Urban Environments and Social Life) to you and to welcome you to the Royal Institute of Technology, School of Architecture and Built Environment.

I know from personal experience that my learning and creativity has been deeply enriched by engaging with people of diverse professional and personal backgrounds.  From day 1, we in CAL have made a strong commitment to ensuring that we are inclusive of all talents, genders, ethnicities, and races – all walks of life. As a result, CAL will continue to experience the dynamic synergy that results from the free flow of ideas and contributions of people from all backgrounds. We are also firmly committed to attaining and sustaining the highest level of quality in our research and associated programs and projects. We put all of our support behind the work of our students so that they have the broadest freedom to express their passion fully and experiment with innovative ideas. With its interdisciplinary curriculum, instruction methodology, and project-based environments, CAL envisions engaged groups of individuals that are allowed to do their best work.

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 CAL Laboratory offers a focused venue for sharing collective research within the thematic field of urban environments and social life (within the discipline of Urban Planning and Design). Simultaneously, it provides a platform for expanding it; therefore, the effectiveness of the department’s teaching, research, projects, and programs dedicated to urban issues are greatly enhanced. As an example of how we achieve this, CAL hosts a coordinated series of local, national and international seminars, symposiums, conferences, publications, working sessions, and public and community dialogues.

The complexities of contemporary global urban, political, economic, and environmental issues are evident. It is not hyperbole to say that human beings are now confronted with the greatest challenge that we have ever faced; in fact, it is a matter of life and death. The planet has recently been experiencing a convergence of natural and man-made crises that are unprecedented in our lifetime. We are also facing the consequences of accelerating and rapid urbanization, the scarcity of natural resources and their mismanagement, the impact of major errors in our responses to disasters, and the increasing demand for and complexity of greatly expanding transportation flows. Our societies have also undergone rapid and radical shifts in terms of age and class, increasing inequities between the rich and poor, and intense demand for affordable and high-quality housing. All of these major challenges require immediate solutions from architects, urban planners, urban designers, landscape architects, and urbanists; actually, we need the combined efforts of all good people who are concerned with the physical condition and future of our cities. We need these professionals and experts to contribute their most imaginative, pragmatic, resilient, innovative, and just solutions.

The Civitas Athenaeum Laboratory (CAL) is committed to creating such a venue where professionals can cooperate with and support each other in the common goal of meeting the challenges that will ultimately lead to sustaining life on our earth. We contribute to this great cause by creating an environment conducive to inter-disciplinary research dedicated to a sustainable, humanistic, and resilient perspective on cities. Ultimately, we strive to generate solutions that will be successfully implemented to solve the most challenging problems of the urban realm. The Laboratory is devoted to transcending the domain of isolated academic research and providing dynamic and pragmatic answers through our focus on applied social sciences. CAL advocates true interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary research. We envision a proactive combination of solid general scientific knowledge from a variety of disciplines, accurate context-specific information, first-rate planning and design strategies, and societal on-the-ground-action with the local actors. The final product is more than the creation of knowledge that is essential for a critical understanding of contemporary professional urban planning and design practice; it is knowledge that will be used to make the built environments of our cities safe, efficient, clean, aesthetically pleasing, and vibrant.

CAL’s four major thematic research groups are: Urban Form and Human Behavior, Sustainable Urbanism, Community and Housing Studies, and Emergent Urban Transformations. Working in collaboration with colleagues within the ABE - School of Architecture and the Built Environment, the KTH – Royal Institute of Technology, and top professionals in industry, it is CAL’s mission to establish the necessary framework for the advancement of innovative ideas in research and teaching in these four areas. We also incorporate our colleagues working in research groups and platforms that are very close partners with KTH, such as CHS - Centre for Sustainable Built Environment, SAD – Spatial Analysis and Design, and others. Furthermore, we also host persons affiliated with the Laboratory that are some of the world’s most distinguished international scholars in their respective fields. We look forward to collaborating with all of them within our four research themes in research, teaching, seminars, colloquiums, and joint publications.

CAL is also involved in dynamic outreach activities with other universities and relevant organizations. Through these activities, we form interesting projects through which to rethink and improve the conventions of planning and design theory and practice. This is done with the goal of making a tangible difference in the lives of human beings through the physical environment of our cities.

Finally, through the creation and support of our Applied Social Science Laboratory, CAL seeks out ways to optimize built environments of cities through the application of the most proven and up-to-date findings from the social sciences. After all, the primary reason for designing wonderful built environments is to improve the lives of people; thus, incorporating elements of psychology and sociology into our designs is powerfully beneficial.  By engaging in experimentation, research, innovation, and intellectual synergy between urban design and applied social science, we will truly achieve an integrated and holistic approach to analyzing, understanding, planning, and designing our built environments. The quality and the livability of the urban environment in our cities, towns, districts and neighborhoods are the deciding factors in the social, cultural, economic, and environmental performance of societies and the quality of life of all its citizens.

We now stand on the threshold of the greatest challenge for our professions. This challenge is no less than improving people’s lives through optimally designing their urban environments and sustaining life on our planet. Do join us for this important and exciting journey, and welcome to CAL!

Tigran Haas, PhD (MSA/SAR, ZSA/DAZ, CNU, APA, ULI)
Associate Professor of Urban Planning + Urban Design
EMAIL: tigran@kth.se | TEL: +46 (0)8 790 8504
More on Tigran Haas at KTH: Academic Profile

Twitter: Follow @tigranhaas

CIVITAS ATHENAEUM LABORATORY Name stands for the following: 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]