Road to sustainability: the E-wandelbus that connects German communities

Road to sustainability: the E-wandelbus that connects German communities

Stories from the SciCultureD Ambassadors

The Ruhr region with its about 5.3 million inhabitants, is the third largest metropolitan area in Europe and it is facing multiple challenges to achieve its vision of “greenest industrial region in Europe”. Philipp Nico Krüger, CEO of the Repair Café by the Ruhr UniverCity Bochum and SciCultureD Ambassador, is experimenting with innovative methodologies, spaces, and tools to activate ‘third places’  as venues for this sustainable transformation.

As a sustainability reporter and digitization expert, Philipp is developing a new idea that will integrate sustainable transportation with community engagement: the e-Wandelbus. This electric bus is a multi-purpose sustainable van that will cater different events in various cities and villages, integrating the needs of different communities with the necessity of sustainable transportation across the Ruhr region.

Funded by the Project THALES by the Bochum University of Applied Sciences, Philipp’s project reflects an overall commitment to a sustainable social development that sees the participation of stakeholders such as municipalities, citizens as well as regional companies and organisations central. For example, Bochum University of Applied Sciences designs, evaluates and implements solutions for the change towards a sustainable Ruhr Metropolis through lively formats designed for participation – from the real laboratory to the “Science Bench”, the experimental site “MakerSpace”, and the mobile unit designed by Philipp “e-Wandelbus”.

I also founded a new Network called TITAN-Network (Transformations, Innovations, Transfer perfomance, Agiligty, Sustainability – Network)’ specifies Philipp, which will combine ‘all vans in the region, such as the E-Wandelbus, now under construction, the RepairMobil, the RUB-Makerspace and ARI, for the possibility of organising events together with stakeholders in the transformation, sustainability, transportation fields.’ 

Philipp during the Maker Session at RUB Makerspace in Bochum.
Photo credits: Valentina Delconte, SciCultureD (Erasmus+ funded)

Take-aways from the course

During the intensive course in Bochum, 8-12 May 2023, Philipp joined more than 20 international participants from different backgrounds. A key element of the course was the cross-disciplinary collaboration, where participants learn how to overcome the challenges of different perspectives through a design thinking process. 

I learned a lot about the founding of third places and what people could think about an electrified bus/van bringing a third place to people in open spaces. I really could gain a lot of ideas from it’ as Philipps describes it.

Even though the main challenge for Philipp was ‘to not impact the ideas of the other group member’, the group developed over the five days the concept of a ‘mobile third place’ that would serve the needs of different citizens, while promoting the values of sustainability and inclusion. With the use of creative techniques, such as body movement, story telling together with the business canvas model, Philipp and his team presented an innovative concept with the use of sounds, theatre and interactive space making.

‘A very innovative idea was the bus as a third place. This was a really original idea, quite innovative also in comparison with the examples we explored during the SciCultureD course. So this was quite out-of-the-box thinking in my opinion’ commented Basel Myhub, facilitator at the course and local organiser working with city2science.

Philipp exhibiting part of the soundscape piece recorded in the neighbourhood in Bochum. Credits: SciCultureD

‘Creating and building the E-Wandelbus will be a huge -bureaucratic- step and will take this year.’ explains Philipp with an eye on the future steps, but with the support of the Ambassador Network ideas and resources, he hopes to organise a series of E-wandelbus events that would impact the local communities.

A panoramic shot during the sharing sessions of Philipp’s team in the car park of the RUB Makerspace, where the presentation took place. Photo credits: Philipp Nico Krüger, CEO of the Repair Café by the Ruhr UniverCity Bochum
and SciCultureD Ambassadors

The Ambassador Network

Together with other participants from previous courses, Philipp joined the Ambassador Network, the community of practice that connects SciCultureD with local organisations and individuals to  bring transdisciplinary practice into the heart of society’s needs. All of the Ambassadors activities and workshops are organised with the collaboration of local NGOs and enterprises that share SciCultureD’s values of sustainability and active citizenship. 

Notes of the author

This article was written by Valentina Delconte (Project Manager at the University of Malta) in collaboration with Philipp Nico Krüger.