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Abstract: In this paper we present and discuss the conceptualisation of the start-up project District Future – Urban Lab which aims at the model transformation of an already existing urban district of the City of Karlsruhe (Southwest Germany) into a sustainable one. Opening at first the prospect on the broader global scale we show that against the background of the worldwide proceeding level of urbanisation and the extensive negative effects of the ongoing urban lifestyle great interest exists in our cities and city districts as important actors and spaces to be addressed on the path to more sustainable societies. This is also true for Europe with its high degree of urbanisation and the traditionally strong economic and socio cultural importance of its cities. In our perception common endeavours towards a sustainable urban development so far too much focus on the Three Pillar Model with its particular dimensions and adhere to the growth idea. Thereafter, three fundamental factors of our holistic approach for a future-proof process towards a sustainable urban development are mentioned: degrowth (sufficiency) as a strategy; the Integrative Concept of Sustainable Development as a guiding concept and instrument for analysis and assessment; and the City of Karlsruhe as the object of our studies and future theatre for implementing our project. Closer attention is then turned on this city: why it would need such an intervention, who the partners in our endeavour are, and how we can win the people for participating in the struggle for sustainable urban development. This leads, in a next step, to illustrating which specific proposals for sub-projects can fill the framework of our approach and how they interrelate with a set of the so-called basic functions of subsistence and several cross cutting issues. Some of these sub-projects are named for exemplification and a preliminary timeline is depicted. Eventually, (assumed) strengths and weaknesses are put up for discussion.

Contribution to the 3rd International Degrowth Conference for Ecological Sustainability and Social Equity in Venice in 2012.