Medarbejderstafet: Christoph Raetzsch

In this instalment of “Medarbejderstafetten” (“Get to know your colleagues”), postdoc in Information Studies Christoph Raetzsch shares his passion for ‘Smart Cities’, bonsai trees and The Digital Living Research Commons at Katrinebjerg (Interview in English).

Christoph Raetzsch (Photo: Kathrin Tiidenberg).

Name and title: Christoph Raetzsch, postdoc
Department: Digital Design and Information Studies

What do you work with on a daily basis?

- Since July, I have been working as a postdoctoral researcher in Martin Brynskov’s project OrganiCity. My main task is to facilitate and conduct research on the project itself. OrganiCity is aimed at establishing a joint platform and best practices for experimentation with urban data (sensor data, movement data, etc.). It is conducted mainly in Aarhus, Santander in Spain and London and supports over 40 experiment teams. The effort of setting up the platform in a co-creative approach with citizens, city officials, companies and academics has generated a huge amount of data that can be instructive for research on participation and innovation in urban governance in the years to come. Part of my job is to ensure that this project-based data becomes accessible for researchers and that the results are communicated in publications within different fields of academic inquiry. I also organize regular research meetings for all affiliated researchers and contribute to the public communication of the project internationally.

Tell me something about an object than can be found in your office!

- I have brought a bonsai tree from my hometown Potsdam in Germany and I have put it in the Digital Living Research Commons space, which is located in the Wiener building. The tree is a plain Ficus benjamina that you can buy in any garden center. It has been shaped over the last 17 years, and it reminds me of home (and Japan). I have added a few stones from Moesgaard Beach to give it local color. Bonsais are literally just “trees in a pot” but they need to have the right proportions in order to give an idealized image of nature. That is where the art (and the problems) come in. Taking care of a tree is a nice hobby that does not require a lot of time or equipment – contrary to what many people might think.

What is the main focus of your work at the moment?

- At the moment I am revising a paper on “Experimentation at Scale” that I have written with Martin Brynskov, Adriënne Heijnen and Mara Balestrini from Barcelona. I am also outlining various publications and prestructuring research data on OrganiCity as a platform, critical approaches to “city API’s”, and ecosystems of innovation in urban governance. Another task is structuring and annotating research data assets for our repository. We are also preparing surveys and interviews around the next Connected Smart Cities Conference in January in Brussels, which is organized by the Open & Agile Smart Cities Initiative (OASC).

Question from research assistant Kata Börönte: “What is your favorite thing about working in the Digital Living Research Commons?”

- The Digital Living Research Commons is an exciting experiment, and it is all about the future of academic work and exchange. It is an office, a library, an event space and a meeting room. What I like best is that you can quickly turn ideas into realities by having everyone connected with their laptops and listening in on what is said in the room at the same time. It makes communication easier and more complex, while putting everyone on the same page of what is going on.


Christoph Raetzsch sends the interview baton to department secretary Yasmin Marie Jensen at Kasernen and would like to know: “What do you think has changed the most in Aarhus during the year of being European Capital of Culture? Has it also changed your perception of the city?”