Morgenstadt City Insights – Water in the city of the future

The Fraunhofer Morgenstadt – City of the future


Worldwide, the number of people living in cities is growing by leaps and bounds. Cities use large quantities of resources and, as a result of the high population density, place particular strain on the environment. On the other hand, cities are extremely dynamic systems in which innovations can spread rapidly. To achieve sustainable development for cities, technical and organizational innovations are required as is their rapid implementation. These innovations can only be developed and implemented through interdisciplinary cooperation. To this end, ten Fraunhofer Institutes have teamed up with local authorities and businesses to form the innovation network “Morgenstadt: City Insights”.

Morgenstadt: City Insights

Fields of action and factors influencing sustainable urban development were also identified using Copenhagen as an example.
© Fraunhofer IGB
Fields of action and factors influencing sustainable urban development were also identified using Copenhagen as an example.
Fields of action and factors influencing sustainable urban development were also identified using Copenhagen as an example.
© Fraunhofer IGB
Fields of action and factors influencing sustainable urban development were also identified using Copenhagen as an example.

Innovations for the city of the future

In an initial phase, from June 2012 to October 2013, researchers from the participating institutes observed six selected cities worldwide and analyzed examples of successful developments in eight key sectors. The aim was to identify action fields and impact factors for sustainable city development and from this, to develop an action-oriented model for sustainable city development. The Fraunhofer IGB made its contribution in the water infrastructure sector and adopted the management of the interdisciplinary team during a two-week research assignment in Copenhagen in March 2013, in which a total of 13 practical examples were studied. In the water infrastructure sector three practical examples were analyzed.

Reduction of water consumption

Supplying a city’s population with drinking water is essential across the globe. Denmark’s groundwater resources are limited. Consequently, in the 1980s it was decided in Copenhagen to reduce the per capita drinking water consumption through a series of measures. In this way it was possible to reduce the average consumption of 170 liters per inhabitant per day to 104 liters (2013). Unlike in Germany, where a reduction in the specific water consumption is now frequently viewed critically, Copenhagen is aiming to reduce its consumption to 90 liters per inhabitant per day by 2025, so that, in spite of population growth, the available water resources are also sufficient in the future.

Adaptation to climate change

The appearance of increasingly severe, heavy rainfall in the summer months is currently the most important water-related issue in Copenhagen. In 2010 and 2011, three instances of unusually severe rainfall resulted in considerable damage to the infrastructure and in insurance claims of almost a billion euros. Since as far back as 2008, the city administration has been working systematically on the development of plans to adapt the infrastructure to this trend. Since 2013, initial measures have been put in place. As with almost all strategies in Copenhagen, there is a focus here on increasing quality of life as well as on hazard prevention: through additional green spaces and bodies of water in the city, rainwater is to be stored and drained away, while at the same time spaces are created for recreation.

Engineered ground filter for rainwater treatment

Connected with this, there is also the development of an engineered ground filter (dual porosity filter), which has been developed at the University of Copenhagen in collaboration with companies and the city administration. Requiring little maintenance, the filter takes dirty rainwater from the roads and produces high-quality water that can be fed into municipal watercourses.

Impact factors

The most important impact factors as far as the city of Copenhagen is concerned, are the pursuit of a high life quality at all levels of planning, the local scientific expertise (universities) and a highly motivated and competent city administration with numerous employees. In addition, the awareness of being an international pioneer in the field of sustainability and to be able to export successfully implemented solutions worldwide, contributes to the town’s success. After all, Copenhagen is aiming to be the first climate-neutral capital city in the world by 2025.

Outlook – partner for Morgenstadt

Since January 2014, the second phase of the Morgenstadt innovation network has been under way; here the implementation of innovations in towns is being prepared on the basis of the data collected and the derived action model. Parallel to this, the Morgenstadt network is supporting the National Platform for the City of the Future, in which – coordinated by three federal ministries – a comprehensive strategic research agenda involving players from industry, science and local authorities is being developed. It is intended that in response to the calls already published from the EU research program Horizon 2020, the network will create applications for joint projects. Currently the network is still open for new partners from industry and local authorities.

Within the context of the regional project “Integrated resource management in Asian cities: the urban nexus” being carried out by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) [German Society for International Cooperation], the Fraunhofer IGB is already actively involved in advising Asian cities on the interconnection of the water, energy and food security sectors.

Project information

Project title

Morgenstadt City Insights



Phase 1: 2012 – 2013

Phase 2: 2014 – 2015


Project partners

  • Fraunhofer IAO, Stuttgart
  • University of Stuttgart, IAT