VARCITIES Spotlight #4 – Eurac Research

February 2022

Eurac Research is an Italian independent research center, which lies in the heart of the Dolomites mountains.

Funded in 1992 by the Autonomous Province of Bolzano, with a dozen of collaborators it grew impressively, especially thanks to its attitude to international and EU co-financed cooperation projects, up to and beyond 500 collaborators from many countries. Through interaction between a variety of disciplines, our research addresses the greatest challenges of the future: keeping societies healthy, fostering intact environments, promoting sustainable energy, and developing well-functioning political and social systems.

Eurac is organized in various Institutes and Centers, among these the Institute for Renewable Energy, that collaborate with industry partners on technological innovations and advise decision-makers on setting the course for the transformation of entire systems, aiming to the smart energy transition.

Within the Institute for Renewable Energy, a dedicated multidisciplinary research group, called “Urban and Regional Energy Systems” (URS) deals with sustainable energy planning and policies, spatial decision support systems, models for sustainable energy development, NBS, and smart solutions at urban and regional level for climate-proof communities and well-being of citizens.

The role in VARCITIES

The main role of Eurac and the URS group within VARCITIES is to coordinate a broad range of activities under Work Package 3. They encompass the definition of the baseline scenario of the pilot cities aiming to implement the visionary solutions envisaged by the project (i.e. from where they are starting); the strategic assessment of the framework conditions, barriers, and drivers influencing the development of the solutions; making explicit the expected multiple benefits; providing guidance to the overall co-design process, assisting pilot cities to pass from ideas to feasible projects; and finally reporting on the main steps of the co-design process. The first year and a half were of hard work, to complete on time the requested tasks and to provide project partners with the following deliverables.

  • D3.2 Common Database and Knowledge Baseline
    The first activity of WP3 consisted of collecting, processing, and analyzing data related to the status quo of the pilot cities at the beginning of the project. Eurac developed and shared a common template to retrieve the needed information for setting the knowledge baseline and systematizing them into a report.
  • D3.3 Report on Local Barriers and Drivers to the Implementation of Visionary Solutions in Pilots
    The main objective of this report is to highlight what are the main drivers (enablers and opportunities) and barriers (challenges and constraints) that can affect the implementation of the Visionary Solutions, how they can be detected, and how the main impacts can be assessed. In line with this, different analyses were performed: PESTLE, SWOT, and impact assessment; the outcomes of the two workshops carried out in the pilots concerning these topics are described as well.
  • D3.4 Reports on Multiple Benefits Expected from Visionary Solutions
    Based on a literature review and an outcome analysis of similar EU-funded projects, the deliverable contains a synthesis of potential multiple benefits (social, environmental, economic) linked to the implementation of the Visionary Solutions proposed by the pilot cities, demonstrating how broad is the spectrum of potential positive impacts delivered to various stakeholders.
  • D3.5 Guidelines for Sketching of Solutions
    The deliverable (and its annexes) aims to steer the pilot cities through the initial sketching of their design solutions. Eurac provided a list of key steps (and tips) for the refinement procedure of the Visionary Solutions to support pilot cities as well as other cities willing to test a similar approach in the future.
  • D3.7 Reports on Co-design Process
    Within the framework of the VARCITIES project, co-design is one of the four stages of the overarching co-creation strategy developed in WP4. The deliverable focuses on this collaborative process by illustrating the various steps that led the pilot cities through the finalization of their Visionary Solutions.

Moreover, Eurac supports the pilot city of Castelfranco Veneto in WP6 in the development of its Visionary Solution n°6, the so-called “virtual window” on the historical garden of Villa Revedin Bolasco, and E2arch in D3.6 “Sketch of Visionary Solutions”. Eurac also contributes to all other WPs, especially WP4 in the co-creation workshops, WP5 in the digital twin development, and WP7 on KPI refinement to support the analysis of multiple benefits. Eurac is also deeply engaged in disseminating project findings (e.g. 57th ISOCARP World Planning Congress in Doha, Qatar) and promoting scientific events, such as the international conference on Smart and Sustainable Planning for Cities and Regions (SSPCR 2022).