RUVIVAL Toolbox gets a makeover!

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New Year calls for a new look – the RUVIVAL Toolbox is getting a makeover! We are hoping that this new setup will make it easier for you to navigate through its diverse topics. Stay tuned for more new and exciting updates of our website that are yet to come!

Toolbox Makeover

If you haven’t yet, here’s a good chance for you to subscribe to our Newsletter and always stay on top of RUVIVAL News!



New Making of RUVIVAL Section

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Many people are involved in developing RUVIVAL learning materials. This is both a challenging and rewarding process. On the one hand, it requires thorough planning and elaborate coordination, but on the other, unique perspectives, linkages and expertise emerge from this exchange. We strongly feel that this is a story that needs to be told alongside the sustainable rural development content you see on our website as the finished product. This is why we are introducing a whole new Making of RUVIVAL section. Here you will be able to read more about how different RUVIVAL elements are created, about the technical and pedagogic aspects, as well as about the experiences of those taking part.
Making of RUVIVAL

Help us translate RUVIVAL into YOUR language!

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When we first launched RUVIVAL back in 2016, we decided to do so in English, in odrer to reach the widest audience possible. However, our goal has always been to reach bigger and broader audiences. As you already know, RUVIVAL is from now on available both in English and Spanish, but we do not want to stop here! This is why we are reaching out to you, our community, to ask for your contribution towards making RUVIVAL multilingual and truly global!

There are several ways in which you can help us translate RUVIVAL. Of course, you will be given due credit for your work and be listed as a contributor on our website. The general discussion regarding translation will take place in the RUVIVAL Community discussion forum. Here both the technical and linguistic details will be discussed. Our stop motion videos are also open for community contributions, which can be done through our YouTube channel. You are free to send us your translation on the topic of your choosing – whether it is your research topic, your favorite RUVIVAL element, or information you think is useful to the people in your community. We look forward to your contributions!


RUVIVAL now in Spanish!

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Hola! We are excited to announce: RUVIVAL is now available in Spanish!

We publish each Thursday new Spanish e-learning content and we will start today with a lecture on Raw Earth Construction:

English Version: Raw Earth Construction

Spanish Version: Construcción con Tierra Cruda

Each post with a Spanish version available will have this indicated at the top of your screen.

Ever since its beginning, RUVIVAL is on a mission to reach a wider audience and spread the word on sustainable rural development. Now this word is also available in Spanish. Therefore, we welcome the Spanish speaking community into our growing RUVIVAL network. We will start to publish material in our lecture section and keep up in 2019 with material in the toolbox.

Join our Newsletter to receive an e-mail when new content is released.

Parte 1

Parte 1 Clase Construccion con Tierra Cruda

Parte 2



New Topics in the RUVIVAL Community Writers Corner!

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As the RUVIVAL Community Writers Corner slowly picks up pace, we would like to draw your attention to the newly opened forum threads.

Writers Corner is where participants can meet in our forum RUVIVAL Community and be part of the publication process – become editors and bring their own ideas to the table.

Don’t forget, we will collect all comments, ideas and hints on the 5th of December 2018! So make sure your contributions are posted early enough to be considered by the authors for Volume 4 and 5 in the RUVIVAL Publication Series.

Click here to open the category Writers Corner.

Category Writers Corner RUVIVAL Community

The new discussion topics are Traditional Rainwater Harvesting, Decentralised Wastewater Treatment and World Soil Resources. Click on the elements below to read the literature reviews.

Read more about RUVIVAL Community here.


RUVIVAL Community – Writers Corner published

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Today we launch the Writers Corner! 

The Writers Corner participants meet in our forum RUVIVAL Community. Now you can be part of the publication process – be an editor and bring your ideas into the discussion.

In the upcoming weeks working papers will be presented and each paper will have its own thread in the forum.

We will collect all comments, ideas and hints on the 5th of December 2018, so make sure your contributions are posted early enough to be considered by the authors for Volume 4 and 5 in the RUVIVAL Publication Series.

Click here to open the category Writers Corner.

Category Writers Corner RUVIVAL Community

We will start to discuss literature reviews on Soil Erosion and Rural Energy Systems. Click on an element below to read the literature review.

Literature Review Soil Erosion          Rural Energy Systems Literature Review

Find more about the RUVIVAL Community here. Stay tuned as we will publish another new literature review next week!


RUVIVAL Community – Forum online

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Dear RUVIVAL fans and followers, we are happy to announce that we developed a new project section dedicated only to you:

Logo RUVIVAL Community

In order to further support you, our RUVIVAL Community, we offer a forum for knowledge exchange and networking. We will keep it short here, as you can find all information about the forum in our new website menu Community.

Even if you are new around here, you can also be part of our community! We are an e-learning project about sustainable rural development and offer several project sections and materials. Find more information about us in our project description. If you are interested in the development process of our material check our making of RUVIVAL. Have a look around our website and if you have any questions contact us.

Join the forum and be part of a community of knowledge production and sharing – we would love to see you online!


Impressions from the Day of Science

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Last weekend we presented our project at the Day of Science at Hamburg University of Technology (Tag des Wissens). We want to thank all visitors for your active participation.

Ruth Schaldach let the audience look behind the scenes of the serious game and invited the audience of the talk to participate next year. The next game will start in May 2019 and you can already book your place.

It was a lot of fun playing the wheel of fortune quiz! The main price were bags with the RUVIVAL logo as a stencil handmade by the RUVIVAL Team.

Finally, we were highly honoured at the event as the Deputy Mayor of Hamburg and Senator for Science, Research and Equal Rights, Katharina Fegebank, as well as the President of Hamburg University of Technology, Prof. Dr. Ed Brinksma and Vice President for Teaching at Hamburg University of Technology, Prof. Dr. Sönke Knutzen visited us.


Tina Carmesin explains the next steps of the RUVIVAL project to Katharina Fegebank, Ed Brinksma and Sönke Knutzen

To give all our readers a small glimpse into the event we prepared a photo presentation below. Enjoy and stay tuned: next week we will publish a whole new project section!

To learn more about Hamburg Open Online University and our partners, have a look at the following webpages:

HOOU – Hamburg Open Online University




Centre of Teaching and Learning at the TUHH



Get to know RUVIVAL at the Day of Science

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This year’s Day of Science (Tag des Wissens) takes place at Hamburg University of Technology and the topic ‘Technology and the Digital World’ couldn’t fit better to our project!

Tag des Wissens 2018

We can’t wait to welcome you to experience RUVIVAL along with around 50 other interesting projects presented by different universities and research-based companies.

Interact with RUVIVAL and other Hamburg Open Online University Projects: The Wheel of Fortune

Together with two other Hamburg Open Online University projects, Kniffelix and MikiE, we would like to introduce you to the world of online learning!
We prepared a little game: The Wheel of Fortune will decide which questions have to be answered. Find the right answers by using our online content. For the ones who can find the most solutions, great prices are waiting!

Talk about Online Education: RUVIVAL Simulation Game

Furthermore, Ruth Schaldach, member of the RUVIVAL team, is going to take part in an event held by the ‘Centre of Teaching and Learning at the TUHH (ZLL)’ She is going to demonstrate the possibilities and advantages of innovative methods in online education on the example of our RUVIVAL Simulation Game .
To get to this event,you don’t even need to leave the building! It’s just around the corner in room H0.04 and will start at 14:00.
If there are already questions popping up into your mind, you can note them here and if they are matching the overall content, they will be included in the speech.


Key facts to remember:

What: RUVIVAL at the Day of Sciences in Hamburg

When: 22nd September 2018, from 13:00 to 18:00

Where: Hamburg University of Technology, Am Schwarzenberg-Campus 5, 21073 Hamburg, Building H, room H0.09

How to reach us: Take the S3 or S31 to the station Harburg Rathaus and then follow the signs! Or you catch the bus no. 14, 143, 146, 443 or 543, and get out at Eißendorferstr. (TU Hamburg).

See you soon at the day of Science in Hamburg!

Find us here: University of Technology Hamburg, Building H, Room 0.09

Further information and the program of the Day of Science can be found here (German):

Day of Science (Tag des Wissens)

Program of all Hamburg Open Online University Projects

To learn more about Hamburg Open Online University and our partners, have a look at the following webpages:

HOOU – Hamburg Open Online University



Centre of Teaching and Learning at the TUHH


Contribute to the Next Volume of RUVIVAL Publication Series!

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We are excited to announce that the next volume of RUVIVAL Publication Series is in the making! This time, we want to try something new and engage with you, our audience, in this process! In the following weeks, we invite you to give us feedback and share your own ideas on the working papers we have published and will publish in the upcoming weeks and which will be part of Volume 4 of our Publication Series!

RUVIVAL Publication Series

Your comments and suggestions will be incorporeted by our authors, to ensure the best and most relevant content on these pressing topics. Contributors will of course be specially named and every input will be given due credit. Comments are welcome using our Contact Form.

Through this step, which is a glimpse into what is soon coming for RUVIVAL, we want to encourage our many diverse communities to share their unique perspective and be heard, as well as to learn about one another. We will be able to share important information to achieve our larger goal – reviving the rural!

Click on the links below to directly access the available working papers. This list will be duly updated, once the papers are online. We are looking forward to all your entries!

Traditional RWH

Decentralised WWT

Global Soil Situation


Another Successful SimGame Comes to an End

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Another round of the RUVIVAL SimGame has officially come to an end. Over the course of one month, teams of students from Hamburg University of Technology in Germany and ICAM in France worked hard on planning 4 new Eco-Towns in a simulated world. They were supported by external participants, who assumed the role of Eco-Town inhabitants. From Wales to Ethiopia: the task was to find ways to incorporate different water and energy solutions with sustainable agricultural practices, while taking into consideration the specific challenges connected to the different geographic, political, economical and climatic conditions.

Just as in real life, the virtual Eco-Towns live from an intense exchange and interactions that take place, which is why it is all the more important that the Simulation Game itself also continues to grow. This round gathered 119 inhabitants. To paint a picture of the exchange
taking place – together they have written 180 articles for the Game’s own Newspaper, discussing different planing options and approaches. That is 130 more than in the previous round! Over the course of the Game, the inhabitants created 450 posts and discussed these in 2700 comments and approximately 35 000 likes.

The planers got inspired from each other  and the virtual Travel Agency was particularly busy, with over 20 trips across the world being realised. With 7 travelers, Pembrokeshire in Wales was the most visited Ecotown. Above on the right you see one of the inhabitants pursing travel tickets.

Notice the Earth in the picture above? We wouldn’t do it justice if we didn’t mention the omnipresent role it played in the Game. All communication with the outside world, as well as the Travel Agency and the Newspaper were coordinated and supervised by Earth.

The closing mass online conference, with more than 50 speakers as delegates for their subgroups, took place last week. The participants were logged in mainly from Hamburg, Paris and Toulouse. Is it possible to build bicycles from bamboo grown in constructed wetlands used for greywater treatment? How can we encourage sustainable behaviour without an restrictive penalty system and non authoritarian approached ? Which water storage system is the most suitable one for the specific climate and geographical conditions? These questions and more were answered during the final presentations.

The planning process in all Eco-Towns  benefited greatly from such a fruitful exchange. As the Simulation Game continues to grow, we look forward to the learning and knowledge transfer and exchange that is to come! We will let you know when the next round is on!

SimGame Earth

This article is also available in German.


RUVIVAL at OERcamp Nord

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Hamburg, 15th and 16th June

New month, new destinations: RUVIVAL is still on tour! We just came back from the events of last month, but we can not wait to join OERcamp Nord! Again we are participating in the OERcamp, a unique meeting point for practitioners of digital and open teaching and learning materials (open educational resources) in the German-speaking area.

Approach us directly on Friday morning at the Market Place (Ger. Reuse Markt der Möglichkeiten) or register for our workshop on Friday from 2:00 pm, where we will be further discussing the possibilities of open universities and creating a future together (Ger. title: Hochschule öffnen – gemeinsam Zukunft gestalten). For this workshop we team up with our colleagues from the TU Hamburg Library and other Hamburg Open Online University projects:

TU Hamburg Library

Wissenschaftliches Arbeiten öffnen (link in German)

Wissenschaftliches Arbeiten (link in German)

SciFiVisions (link in German)

OERcamp Nord Program (link in German)


Logo OERcamp


RUVIVAL on Tour: IFAT, OERcamp & Meet the HOOU

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RUVIVAL is going on tour! We look forward to meeting you at the following events in May, so mark your calendars and let’s revive the rural! Stay tuned for further events in June.

OERcamp Süd

Bad Wildbad, 11th and 12th May

Our first stop is the wonderful village of Bad Wildbad in the South of Germany, where for the second time we are participating in the OERcamp. OERcamp is a unique meeting point for practitioners of digital and open teaching and learning materials in the German-speaking area. Approach us directly on Friday at the Market Place (Ger. Markt der Möglichkeiten), or register for our workshop on Saturday from 9:30 am, where we will be further exploring the possibilities for teaching and learning synergies. Curious to know more about the OERcamps? Read about our last year’s impressions here.

Logo OERcamp

OERcamps (link in German)

OERcamp Süd Program (link in German)



Munich, 14th to 18th May

IFAT is the world’s leading trade fair for water, sewage, waste and raw materials management. You can come and meet us from Monday to Friday in the Experience.Science.Future Area (Hall B4, close to Gate 5) at the stand of the Institute of Wastewater Management and Water Protection. On Tuesday, 15th of May at 2 pm we will be presenting RUVIVAL in the Session Area Future (Hall B 4.150/250). The topic of our presentation is RUVIVAL: collaborative e-learning for sustainable rural development.



Meet the HOOU

Hamburg, 31st May

To cap the month off, together with our HOOU sister projects, we will be opening our doors to all of you interested in meeting HOOU, discussing and getting involved. Come and show off your RUVIVAL knowledge, for a chance to win a prize!

Logo Meet the HOOU

Meet the HOOU (link in German)

Meet the HOOU Program (link in German)


RUVIVAL in practice: Project newTree

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This week we introduce you to another sustainable  rural development project which is implementing exactly those practices RUVIVAL is set to teach: meet newTree!

We have also partnered up to create learning materials about the practices they are implementing, so make sure to have a look at the newTree Semi-Circular Bunds example!

newTree: Local women carrying the harvest
Local women carrying the harvest

In Burkina Faso, a landlocked country in the African Sahel region, over 80 % of the population lives from subsistence farming. Population growth, deforestation and the effects of climate change accelerate the degradation and erosion of soils, thus threatening rural families’ livelihoods. Since 2003, newTree has been developing and implementing an effective approach that supports local communities in restoring ecosystems and soil fertility, improving living conditions and gaining new sources of income. The participatory newTree approach is based on the principle of knowledge transfer: through awareness building, instructions, coaching and provision of basic materials, newTree ensures that farmers and women’s groups can replicate methods autonomously and sustainably.

newTree Activities

newTree activities are centered on four pillars which together form a holistic, sustainable agroforestry system. First, the natural regeneration of ecosystems is achieved through the fencing of land, which offers protection from grazing and woodcutting. Gradually, the natural vegetation recovers, first through grasses, later through shrubs and trees, which build a critical basis through their root system and shade.

Farmers are then instructed in effective, sustainable and organic agricultural methods, which improve water retention, erosion protection and fertility. Farmers can either apply these methods within or outside of their protected sites. Critically, the resulting natural regeneration not only restores ecosystems, but also provides local farming communities with new and sustainable sources of food and income.

To reduce the need for firewood and logging – over 80 % of cooking in Burkina Faso is done on open fireplaces – newTree instructs women in building improved cooking stoves. The improved stoves reduce wood consumption by 60 %, which amounts to almost 2 tonnes of wood per year and household. The stoves are built by the women themselves, based on traditional methods and using locally available materials.

The making of improved cooking stoves
Aerial view of a newTree parcel

Finally, farmers and women’s groups receive training in activities to develop new, wood independent sources of income. Depending on local conditions and demand, these activities can range from beekeeping and honey production to hay, seedling or vegetable production, the transformation and commercialization of non- wood forest products or the raising of livestock such as sheep, goats or cattle.

To date, newTree has enabled the set-up of over 300 enclosures protecting 600,000 trees, the sustainable cultivation of close to 20,000 ha of degraded land and the construction of 65,000 improved cooking stoves. Together with its local partner tiipaalga, over 150,000 inhabitants have been reached, which amounts to 5 % of the population in the newTree project areas. These achievements motivate the local team of 53 employees even further to establish tiipaalga as a guiding light in the promotion of sustainable agriculture and improved living conditions of rural families in Burkina Faso.

For more information, please visit:

newTree Semi-Circular Bunds

Website of the newTree Project (available in German and French)

newTree YouTube Channel

Article about newTree in Frankfurter Allgemeine (Link in German)


Applications for the RUVIVAL Simulation Game are now open!

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As revealed last week, we are happy to announce that the Simulation Game applications are now open! The game will officially start on the 14th of May and we recommend that you join us from the beginning, as you will get to observe and participate in the entire planning process! Late applications will also be accepted, in case there are still free spots left.

So, how do you apply for to participate in the Simulation Game?

1. Go to the Simulation Game page and get further informed about the game.

2. Fill in the registration form.

3. Shortly before the start of the Game, you will get an e-mail invitation to join our system.

4. Join us in planning new and improved ecological towns!

We look forward to having you on board!

RUVIVAL Simulation Game Applications Now Open
Go to registration



Upcoming RUVIVAL Events: Simulation Game and ICAM Guest Lecture

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Simulation Game

May is just around the corner and with it some exciting RUVIVAL events, most notably – the new round of the RUVIVAL Simulation Game! Next week, we will start accepting applications for external participants – the application form and further instructions will be available on our website, so make sure to stick around!

Quick recap about the Simulation Game:

It is an interactive learning tool for planning eco-towns. The planning takes place in a simulated world, on the platform HumHub. The aim is to employ ecological design using system thinking and synergetic effects of resource cycles. The planning groups, consisting of students from participating universities, exchange their knowledge, as they experience similar obstacles in the planning process despite being in a different environment. Each planning group has subgroups focusing on water, energy, buildings, transport or community impact, just to name some aspects.

Simulation Game Platform

As an external participant, you play the role of a future inhabitant in one of the newly planned towns. You are able to take action and influence the planning progress. Still not sure if the Simulation Game is for you? Read more about the Simulation Game, as well as about the experiences from the previous year.


New Interactive Lecture in Collaboration with ICAM France

Some months ago, we gave away hints about the novelties of the upcoming Simulation Game. One thing that is new is that our project partners from ICAM France have developed an Interactive Lecture to be used as learning material for the participating students and during the Game. This lecture is of course also available for the wider public on the RUVIVAL website. We have just published Part 1 and you can reach it here. Start learning about raw earth construction today and get ready for the next round of the Simulation Game! We look forward to having you!


RUVIVAL Publication Series Volume 3 is Out!

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New year calls for a new publication: we have just released RUVIVAL Publication Series Volume 3! This Volume is concerned with the synergies between ecological sanitation and sustainable land management. It discusses different responses, methods and alternatives, as well as the corresponding difficulties and limitations to increase water efficiency in agricultural irrigation and to promote ecological sanitation practices. The synergies between these two fields are in this case realised through the usage of urine as a fertiliser for non-food uses or alternatively by recycling nutrients from excreta in a Terra Preta Sanitation system.

RUVIVAL Publication Series Volume 3 cover

Founder and editor in chief Ruth Schaldach about RUVIVAL Publication Series:

“In order to face environmental challenges and to restore already eroded areas knowledge needs to be collected, spread, shared, developed and implemented.”

Founder and editor in chief Prof. Dr.-Ing. Ralf Otterpohl about his practical experiences with the topics of Volume 3:

Rainfall can stabilise, if reforestation and improved humus layers with year round vegetation cover is ensured on a larger area. Only if really needed, technical irrigation should be implemented.

Read RUVIVAL Publication Series Volume 3 here. This volume is also available for free download via the Library of Hamburg University of Technology.

The previous issues can be reached here:

RUVIVAL Volume 1

RUVIVAL Volume 2

Find an overview about all published volumes here.

Making of RUVIVAL

Making of RUVIVAL Stop Motion Videos

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Stop Motion is a visual storytelling technique that has been present in film-making for over a century. In fact, it is the first ever animation technique. It creates an illusion of movement by playing a series of individual frames in a fast sequence. In Stop Motion, ideas are often conveyed by combining art, motion and metaphor.

This is why in RUVIVAL, we use the Stop Motion technique to explain complex topics in a simple and descriptive visual manner, where language is not in the foreground. The particular style of our videos is called cut-out animation. This technique utilises flat materials, such as paper and fabrics, producing a 2D animation as a result. We focus on using small-scale handmade scenes and we have learned a few things along the way about creating a makeshift Stop-Motion studio. All images used in RUVIVAL Stop-Motion videos are hand drawn by our collaborators, just as all sound effects are available in public domain. For clarity, the audio is recorded by a professional native speaker.

But don’t just take our word for it, see for yourself how RUVIVAL Stop Motion Videos are made!

To watch RUVIVAL Stop Motion Videos, click here. Also, subscribe to our YouTube channel to never miss any RUVIVAL Videos!


Get to know the Slope Farming Project

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You have probably noticed that many of our RUVIVAL materials, such as the Examples of Agroforestry Systems, the Check Dams Handbook and even our first RUVIVAL Book, have close ties to Arba Minch in Ethiopia. For this we have to thank our diligent project partners from the Slope Farming Project! Through academic exchange and collaboration we ensure that their on-site knowledge and experience can be transferred worldwide.

Trenches Slope Farming Project Arba Minch Ethiopia
Trenches built by Slope Farming team members


What exactly is the Slope Farming Project?

Slope Farming is a research project aimed at developing a holistic land use management system for the productive restoration, conservation and improvement of land and water resources and the overall ecosystem. It primarily tackles issues of the degradation of soils and ecosystems, loss of biodiversity and shrinking forest areas, drought events and shortage of water, but also flooding and non-adapted agricultural techniques. This all leads to declining agricultural yields in quantity and quality for local farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa. The system approach is constantly being evaluated and further developed with the aim for upscaling.

The holistic approach of Slope Farming is developed within the interdisciplinary field of restoration engineering. A diverse set of measures and approaches from the fields of water and soil management, waste and wastewater management, organic farming, permaculture, energy systems and housing systems. All these approaches  are all integrated in one multi-layered system. The aim is to activate and utilise synergies and co-operative properties, as well as to close the loops of nutrient cycles.

Ideas for small scale business, innovative value chains and marketing are simultaneously developed, as well as new participatory systems, for the local creation of value. With local resources and especially local labor, local value can be created, benefiting both, the environment and the livelihood of people in rural areas. This is essential for the overall sustainable development of rural areas in the long term.

The Slope Farming Project was started 2015 in Arba Minch, Ethiopia by the Hamburg University of Technology (TUHH), in cooperation with the Arba Minch Town Municipality (AMTM), Arba Minch University (AMU) and the Catholic Church Arba Minch (CCAM). Arba Minch, with its tremendous development in recent years as part of the growing economy of Ethiopia, can become a role model for adapted, sustainable, very productive land use management systems of the 21st century. Such systems can nourish an ever increasing number of world inhabitants, while not destroying but building up fertile soil.

Water retained in trenches, Slope Farming Project Arba Minch Ethiopia
Water retained in trenches on the Slope Farming Project site

M.Sc. Jan Wibbing, PhD Student and Slope Farming Project Coordinator about the project approach:

‘Maybe for the first time, a holistic system in this depth is put together in all its complexity in Ethiopia. We aim to create a feasible, very productive approach, able to restore soil while producing high quality food and protecting the climate. Therefore, we work practically on the project site in order to establish a role model, which can be experienced. Not by textbook, paper or pictures, but by getting our hands on the ground. By working in the field in Arba Minch, we have direct input by locals and can test our concept with the people that matter most  – local small-scale subsistence farmers in rural or semi-rural areas.

As a small-scale pilot project, our work is depending on donations. With little input, we can achieve many things in Ethiopia and aim to demonstrate our ideas in the field along with local people in order to inspire and motivate local multipliers. For any kind of support we would be very grateful.’

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Ralf Otterpohl, Director of Institute of Wastewater Management and Water Protection Hamburg University of Technology about restoration of eroded landscapes:

‘Causing or allowing erosion to continue is the most stupid and far reaching damage on the physical plain mankind can do. Luckily, restoration is surprisingly simple! However, many hands are required. It will often be advantageous to invite willing and capable people from the region, including reverse-migrants, to build productive family farms where they get land tenure if they build humus and continuous vegetation cover. Food production for the neighbourhood can assure livelihoods and water reproduction and a balanced climate are a very valuable consequence for the region. This is what we want to achieve with Slope Farming, RUVIVAL and specific research work. Please join in!

Logo Slope Farming Project Arba Minch Ethiopia

More information:

Betterplace Donations for Slope Farming

Website of Slope Farming Project


Preparations for the Next Simulation Game Well Underway

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We are happy to announce that the preparations for the next Simulation Game are well underway and we will be bringing you many novelties in this, third round!

What is the Simulation Game?

The Simulation Game is an interactive learning tool for planning eco-villages, that was developed at the Institute of Wastewater Management and Water Protection at Hamburg University of Technology. This serious Game simulates complex challenges faced in real-world projects.  These challenges often extend beyond technical and there is rarely a chance to strictly apply textbook solutions. This is especially true for the challenges encountered in RUVIVAL topics.

Through the Simulation Game, we want to encourage the participants to act in a holistic and creative way,  while utilising the available resources in the best possible way. The Game can provide participants with engaging experiences in planning, problem solving, data management, crisis management, communication and collaboration. During the four weeks, students from different universities assume a role within a planning team in one of the four eco-villages, which are distributed across the globe. Each team is in charge of planning a specific aspect of the eco-village, such as land management, water utilisation, community impact, construction, transport, or waste management, to name a few. Depending on the location, they are faced with challenges related to different climatic zones, eco systems or socio-economic environments.


Screenshot from the previous Simulation Game
Participants arranging an appointment for their online meeting

We started with students from the TUHH and HCU in Hamburg, last year students and researchers joined us from ICAM Paris and Toulouse.

Here are some of the impressions from the participants in the previous two Games:

The idea of a major project was a nice change from the usual engineering courses, allowing students to think outside of the box and apply their previous knowledge, while learning new things through research and from others in the group work.

[I learned to] better coordinate with fellow members, do in depth research on a certain topic, manage time.

Currently, we plan the next game and all former project partners will be part of it again and maybe ICAM Douala in Kamerun will join us with a group of students.

How can you take part?

The Game is also open for external participants, who can take on the role of village inhabitants. As the inhabitants, they can voice their opinions about the development of the village, or raise concerns in case they feel that their interests are not taken into consideration. In this way, even though they are not directly part of the planning teams, the inhabitants actively contribute to shaping local actions and policies. The level of engagement and amount of time spent in the Game is determined by the participant.

The next Simulation Game will take place in May 2018. We are happy that students from ICAM will join in again. You can apply to take part in the Game using our Contact Form and we will send you an e-mail with registration information and further explanations some weeks before the beginning. The beginning of the Game will also be announced on the website some weeks before. Stick around and join us in our simulated world to find out more!

More information:


RUVIVAL Contact Form



RUVIVAL Publication Series Volume 2 is out!

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RUVIVAL Publication Series Volume 2 is out now, featuring water related topics – aquifer recharge and rainwater harvesting!

Sufficient and quality water sources are an imperative for reviving degraded regions. However, all presented methods can and should be applied before a region is degraded as water conservation should go hand in hand with sustainable land usage. The methods introduced in this volume help to address these multiple objectives at once, such as improving source water quality, preventing land subsidence, combating soil erosion and flood hazards and achieving food security.

RUVIVAL Publication Series Volume 2

Founder and editor in chief Ruth Schaldach about RUVIVAL Publication Series:

“We hope that via open access this publication series will reach a broad public and provide a deeper understanding of research fields important for a sustainable rural development and in areas in need of landscape restoration.”

Founder and editor in chief Prof. Dr.-Ing. Ralf Otterpohl about his practical experiences with the topics of Volume 2:

“Single elements that are usually implemented can be efficient by themselves, but have proven to perform miracles if applied in combination. However, the challenge is to choose and apply all elements in a professional way, to adapt them to the given situation and to consider the system’s many interactions, too.”

Read RUVIVAL Publication Series Volume 2 here. This volume is also available for free download via the library of Hamburg University of Technology.

Stay tuned for RUVIVAL Publication Series Volume 3, which is coming out in January 2018! Meanwhile, you can also renew your knowledge on the topics of RUVIVAL Publication Series Volume 1.


RUVIVAL at Campus Innovation and OERcamp

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It has been a busy week for RUVIVAL! Just as we published our first RUVIVAL Book last week, we headed to the 2017 Campus Innovation Conference here in Hamburg. Together with our colleagues from the Library of Hamburg University of Technology and Hamburg Open Online University we discussed topics related to Open Access and the translation challenges by producing Open Educational Resources (OERs) in two workshops.  We discussed open access in relations to Open Educational Resources with Thomas Hapke from the Library. The communication and translation challenges were discussed in relation to flight and migration with the two HOOU Projects: Hop-On (link in German), providing information for educational opportunities to migrants and Project Management in Urban Design, an architecture project on building community houses with students, pupils and refugees.

These two topics are of particular importance for us because, as an Open Access e-learning project, we strive to help restoring degraded areas and creating new, not just inhabitable, but liveable spaces by producing knowledge to empower local communities all over the world to increase their living conditions.

Fresh with impressions from Campus Innovation, we were off to the OERcamp in Berlin. There we further discussed our Open Access strategy and presented how Master students, PhD students and researchers collaborate to create RUVIVAL Toolbox elements.

We would like to thank all participants for the interesting discussions and productive feedback. We cannot think of a better way to do so than to immediately start implementing what we learned and make RUVIVAL even better!

But that’s not all! More good news this week came from our partner project, the Slope Farming Project in Arba Minch Ethiopia , who won the first prize at the 5th Harburg Sustainability Awards! The prize money will go into further implementing the measures to make a long-lasting, sustainable change in Arba Minch. Congratulaitons!

More information:

Campus Innovation (link in German)

OERcamp (link in German)

5th Harburg Sustainability Awards (link in German)



The first RUVIVAL Book is out!

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We are happy to announce that we have just published our first RUVIVAL book! “RUVIVAL Book Series: Productive Ponds as Part of Rainwater Harvesting Systems in the Context of the Slope Farming Project Arba Minch, Ethiopia” by Stefan Hügel is a result of research collaboration between the Institute of Wastewater Management and Water Protection at the Hamburg University of Technology and the Slope Farming Project in Arba Minch, Ethiopia.

Stefan spent months of research in both Hamburg and Arba Minch dealing with topics such as the use of ponds in rainwater harvesting systems, plants suitable for agricultural production in ponds and the processing of aquatic plant biomass to increase its nutritional value, as well as  the integration of aquaculture systems.

The book is available as a free download via the library of Hamburg University of Technology.

We had a talk with Stefan and here is what he told us about his book.

First RUVIVAL Book

Stefan: During my first stay in Ethiopia I realized how much all agricultural productivity is limited by the availability of water. Because of the rain and dry seasons, there is either too much or too little rain. Floods and droughts are alternating with serious consequences for the local farmers. Rainwater harvesting techniques have the potential to alleviate this problem. I read about the enormous biomass productivity of Azolla, a floating fern, so I wanted to combine rainwater storage ponds with floating plants as part of an integrated approach.

This book is about the combination of rainwater harvesting and aquaculture. By growing floating plants, such as Azolla and duckweed, on the surface of rainwater storage ponds, evaporation is reduced, the spreading of mosquitoes is reduced and the produced biomass can be used as animal fodder.

RUVIVAL: Are you doing further research in this field?

Stefan: Absolutely! I started my PhD in order to deepen my studies on the cultivation and usage of floating plants. I believe they will play a dominant role in the future of agriculture, as well as wastewater treatment and regenerative energy. Floating plants might play a key role in connecting those fields while maximizing synergies.

RUVIVAL: Tell us more about the field work in Ethiopia.

Stefan: I was actually surprised how well it went. The ponds that I constructed to analyze how much biomass I could grow with Azolla produced good amounts with little input of resources and time. A local farmer saw my ponds and asked me about them. After I explained everything to him and giving him some Azolla plants, he started to construct a pond on his farmland and fed the plants to his cows and chickens. It worked really well, so he is now building more ponds to grow more fodder for his animals, which saves him money.

RUVIVAL: What are the most important lessons learned you will take from this research and writing of the book?

Stefan: I learned that there is a lot of potential of improvement in conventional agriculture. New agricultural concepts can make a huge difference in the lives of many people by increasing the productivity, building up the soil and storing rainwater during the dry season. I also learned that it makes no sense to tell local farmers how to improve their ways of farming. They need to see actual proof to be convinced. That’s why it’s so important to put theoretical concepts into practice, so that others can replicate them and benefit from it!

To read this book, click here. For more RUVIVAL Readings, click here.

For more information on the Slope Farming Project, click here.


RUVIVAL is one year old!

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One year RUVIVAL – that means one year of open education for reviving the rural!

Exactly one year ago we set out on a digital mission to spread the knowledge necessary for restoring degraded areas and creating new, not just inhabitable, but liveable spaces. Since the beginning, we offer you new learning opportunities on a weekly basis and not so long ago we passed our first 100 post milestone!

one year RUVIVAL

So what has been going on at RUVIVAL in the last year? Our project has been developing through 5 different, but mutually supportive parts: Toolbox, Interactive Lectures, Reading, Simulation Game and Project Consultancy.

The Toolbox contains practical knowledge and methods to revive the land, use synergies and develop rural settings. It is developed through collaboration with Master students, doctoral students and researchers at the Institute of Wastewater Management and Water Protection (AWW) of Hamburg University of Technology.

Interactive Lectures are envisioned as a virtual classroom, where students “attend” the lectures given by guest lecturers. Lectures are usually concerned with broader and more interconnected topics and designed to provide you with comprehensive knowledge on various topics related to rural development and reviving the rural.

The Simulation Game takes place in a simulated world, where different groups of users plan New Towns in different climates. The groups exchange their knowledge, as they experience similar obstacles in the planning process, despite being in a different environment. The aim of the game is to plan a small New Town with an ecological design using system thinking and synergetic effects of resource cycles.

Project Consultancy connects students and non-commercial projects for knowledge exchange and practical experience. Existing projects can apply for project consultancy collaboration with RUVIVAL if they run an ecological sanitation system, use rainwater harvesting systems, decentralised wastewater treatment or other ecological systems, which could be interesting for further research within this project. This section is still under development and soon new exciting possibilities can be expected.

The Reading Section is the newest addition to RUVIVAL and it contains RUVIVAL Publication Series and RUVIVAL Books.

You, our audience, just as our production team, come from all corners of the world. This is an additional testament for the global presence and relevance of the sustainable rural development issues RUVIVAL is set to address. It is important to remember that these issues are not taking place somewhere else and to someone else, but here and now and are affecting all of us. Stick around, as we have many exciting plans for the upcoming year. Only together we can revive the rural!


Impressions from the Long Night of the Sciences

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Long Night of the Sciences took place last weekend and we had a lot of fun learning and discovering with our visitors! For those of you who couldn’t join us, we picked out some of the Night’s highlights.

Together with two other HOOU projects, Kniffelix and MikiE, we invited you to test your luck and knowledge related to all three projects at our wheel of fortune. What are the building blocks of proteins? What is the main cause of erosion? What is the name of the property that describes how ‘thick’ a fluid is? These are just some of the many questions we asked our visitors.

Long Night of the Sciences - Visitors spinning the wheel of fortune
Visitors spinning the wheel of fortune

In order to solve the questions, visitors went to the stands of the three projects. Together with the project members they discovered and discussed the three educational websites. Once they found the right answer, they spun the wheel of fortune to win a prize – for example a tote bag that could be designed during the night.

We would like to thank everyone who participated in this event.


Further Information about the Long Night of the Sciences

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TUHH Campus Building Q
Find us at Hamburg University of Technology in Building Q!

Hamburg’s Long Night of the Sciences is just around the corner and, as promised last week, today we provide you with further information about the event.

We have joined forces with two other HOOU projects, Kniffelix and MikiE, and will expect you on campus of the Hamburg University of Technology in building Q (Am Irrgarten 3-9, 21073 Hamburg) on Saturday, 4th of November, already from 5 pm to 9 pm.

What can you expect from the Long Night of the Sciences? More importantly, what are these prizes we mentioned last week? Pay us a visit and test both your luck and knowledge in our HOOU wheel of fortune! By correctly answering questions related to either RUVIVAL, MikiE or Kniffelix you can win a prize! (Psst, small hint: have a look here and we guarantee you will be well prepared!)

Kniffelix, an experiment blog of children scientists (Kinderforscher) is set on a mission to find out how to get ketchup out of the tube, without flooding the plate – a question all fans of fast food would like an answer to!

With MikiE and their virtual laboratory you will have a chance to learn about the world of extremophiles, organisms which thrive in  extreme conditions, physical or geochemical. These conditions are detrimental to most life on Earth.

Here you can find the programme of all projects presented in Building Q.

You have also the chance to personally meet some of our interactive lecturers and authors working on topics linked to RUVIVAL:

18:45 h Room 1.15 Building A: Prof. Dr.-Ing. Ralf Otterpohl about: The New Town – A good life, local production and a secure future for cities and the rural (“Das Neue Dorf: Gut leben, lokal produzieren, Zukunft sichern für Stadt und Land” Link to Programme)

17:15 h Room 0.18 Building A: Jan Wibbing, Stefan Hügel and Prof. Dr.-Ing. Ralf Otterpohl about Slope Farming in Arba Minch, Ethiopia (“Slope Farming in Arba Minch, Äthiopien: Fluchtursachen bekämpfen” Link to Programme)

21:00 Room 0.19 Building A: Tavseef Mairaj Shah about current research about the combination of SRI (System of Rice Intensification) with other agricultural strategies (“Reis auf dem Trockenen – Kleinbauern können mehr!” Link to Programme)


RUVIVAL at the Long Night of the Sciences in Hamburg!

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November 4th 2017 is the Long Night of the Sciences in Hamburg! On this day we are opening our doors to you together with more than 50 universities, research institutes and technology-oriented companies in Hamburg. Come and experience RUVIVAL first hand! You will have a chance to test your knowledge and win a prize, or as we like to call it – a RUVIVAL badge of honour!

We will post more detailed information next week, but here is what you should know for now!


Long Night of the Sciences

What: RUVIVAL at the Night of the Sciences in Hamburg

When: 4th November 2017, 17:00 – 21:00

Where: Hamburg University of Technology Building Q, Am Irrgarten 3-9, 21073 Hamburg

How to reach us: S3 or S31 station Harburg Rathaus, then follow the signs! Alternative: Bus 14, 143, 146, 443 or 543, stop Eißendorferstr. (TU Hamburg).


Find the program and learn more about the Long Night of the Sciences here: in English and in German.


Our First Milestone – 100 RUVIVAL Posts

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Today marks a special milestone – since starting our website almost a year ago, RUVIVAL has grown and has now published over 100 posts! Hooray!

As you probably already know, every Thursday we publish new Toolbox elements or Interactive Lecture parts.  Since our very first post, this has remained our goal – to offer you new learning opportunities about sustainable rural development on a weekly basis. We have meanwhile expanded this learning offer with the RUVIVAL Publication Series – a publication gathering literature reviews on pressing issues in the context of sustainable rural development.

100 Posts RUVIVAL Milestone

To create RUVIVAL, we have joined forces with Master students, PhD Students and researchers, as well as pupils. We look forward to future collaborations and anyone interested in co-creating RUVIVAL can get in touch with us through our contact form.

Stay tuned, as we have many exciting things planned! The easiest way to do so is by subscribing to our newsletter or following us on social media.

Together we can revive the rural!

Making of RUVIVAL

Making of RUVIVAL Toolbox Elements

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Every week, we present you with new RUVIVAL Toolbox Elements on various topics concerning sustainable rural development.  We produce these elements in collaboration with Master and PhD students and researchers at the Institute of Wastewater Management and Water Protection (AWW) at Hamburg University of Technology (TUHH). The process includes many feedback-rounds to ensure high quality standards. The presented Toolbox elements contain therefore most relevant and up to date information. The goal is to communicate scientific results in a practical and understandable way. We asked one of our students, Maria Monina Orlina, to tell us how working with RUVIVAL was for her. Maria Monina Orlina created the Toolbox Element: Sustainable Irrigation under supervision of Ruth Schaldach and Prof. Dr.-Ing. Otterpohl as a project work during her Joint European Master in Environmental Studies, Cities & Sustainability.

Why did you decide to collaborate with RUVIVAL?

In the summer semester of 2016, I took 2 classes under Professor Otterpohl. In particular, I enjoyed his class Water and Wastewater Systems in a Global Context. The students participated in a Simulation Game wherein we had to design an eco-town in either Wales or Ethiopia. I really liked the concept, because each group was assigned a sub-group (e.g. transportation, waste water, buildings) and we had to propose the best plan depending on various conditions of the given environment. Further, Professor Otterpohl had mentioned in one of his lectures regarding an upcoming project that required video editing and movie making work. I’ve had some experience in the past, creating short films for school and personal projects. From there, I knew this was something I’d like to be involved in.

RUVIVAL Toolbox Elements Presentation

How was the experience of making RUVIVAL Toolbox Elements?

The experience was both challenging and enjoyable. I was able to use my different set of skills, both technical and creative. Research and writing was involved to create a technical paper composed of a Literature Review. At the same time, drawing, editing with Photoshop, creating stop motion videos were major tasks required. This was the part I enjoyed more, because the creative aspects allowed me to use the “left side” of my brain! Moreover, there is good collaboration in making the OER because, with the work of fellow students, I could pick up some inspiration from them in order to come up with something unique for my own elements.

What did you learn from it?

My biggest take-away from this project, aside from expanding my knowledge regarding Sustainable Irrigation, was learning how to make a stop motion video! This was the first time I had done such type of movie.

Why did you choose this particular topic to work with?

Irrigation was a topic I had always been interested since college, as I had a few classes on it during my undergrad years. Also, prior to starting my project work with RUVIVAL, I had just finished an internship at the Center for Water-Energy Efficiency in UC Davis California, with my work focusing on groundwater use in agricultural irrigation. Since I had done quite extensive research on the topic, I wanted to expand my knowledge regarding sustainable irrigation even further. Fortunately, this was a topic that the team wanted to tackle within the project.

What do you think of the RUVIVAL project?

I think RUVIVAL is a great initiative to promote learning through an online platform. There are many ways to gain knowledge nowadays, most especially via the Internet. RUVIVAL takes it even a step further with its Simulation Game, wherein one can collaborate with others to create a practical output based on learnings made from the other tools (interactive lectures and videos). The approach and style is simple and it is accessible to everybody. Anyone can learn from it depending on whichever rural topic they would like to study.

Have a look at the RUVIVAL Toolbox Elements Monina created here.

Interested in creating RUVIVAL? Please get in touch with us using our contact form.


Ready, set, launch: the HOOU website is here

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Last week, we introduced our new logo, and by now you must be wondering what stands for. Wonder no more, we are here to explain!

HOOU stands for Hamburg Open Online University and RUVIVAL is one of the projects being developed within it. The idea is to provide a digital space where students and lecturers, but also the interested public can meet and collaborate on interdisciplinary projects on an academic level. Learning with HOOU and RUVIVAL is open for all.

HOOU Start Page

The HOOU website has just been launched last week and there you will be able to find all educational resources being developed under one roof, including those of RUVIVAL. The website is still being developed, however, you can already have a look at some of the different learning opportunities offered. The English version will also be available soon, but for now, to find projects in English, select in the left menu Lernangebote (Learning opportunities) and in the field Sprache (Language) select English – simple as that. What’s more, you additionally learned two German words!

Here you can read more about the background story of HOOU. If you already know more than these two words in German you can find more information in this press release by the City of Hamburg.


RUVIVAL Publication Series – The New Reading Section

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New Reading Section - RUVIVAL Volume 1

One of the main aims of the RUVIVAL project is to enable open access to scientific knowledge and to achieve this, we are introducing a new reading section on our webpage. Here you will find all our publications: RUVIVAL Publication Series and RUVIVAL e-books.

Our first publication is already here: RUVIVAL Publication Series Volume 1. This series gathers literature reviews on pressing issues in the context of sustainable rural development. It is available for free download via the library of Hamburg University of Technology.

Founder and editor in chief Ruth Schaldach about RUVIVAL Publication Series:

“We hope that via open access this publication series will reach a broad public and provide a deeper understanding of research fields important for a sustainable rural development and in areas in need of landscape restoration.”

Founder and editor in chief Prof. Dr.-Ing. Ralf Otterpohl about his practical experiences with the topics of Volume 1:

“The methods may look simple on the first view, but especially simple and low-cost methods require experience. Few professional failures can be worse than working with villagers, who often put a lot of their hope, money and labour into implementation, and then running them into famine with ill designed systems.”

Stay tuned for the publication of RUVIVAL Volume 2 and our first e-book!



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Have you spotted the new RUVIVAL logo yet?


After a long decision making process we decided to use this logo designed by Johanna Mörke.

The three intertwined colours symbolise the symbiotic relationship between water, soil and vegetation. For regeneration of degraded regions and creation of vital landscapes it is crucial to look at all of these three. With RUVIVAL we aim to draw synergistic connections between these elements and to define measures which enable a sustainable future.

Revive the Rural!


Pupils Create RUVIVAL Toolbox Elements

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In an effort to open ourselves towards younger audiences, we teamed up with pupils from Goethe-Schule Harburg and Stadtteilschule Oldenfelde to create RUVIVAL Toolbox elements!

While creating practical knowledge resources on a RUVIVAL topic of their own choosing, the pupils had an opportunity to put both their practical and theoretical knowledge to use and experience a university setting. That’s what we call feeding two birds with one seed!

two birds create ruvival

pupils present their work

The pupils presented their work at the Institute of Wastewater Management and Water Protection and received valuable feedback from fellow researchers, which they are right now diligently integrating into the final versions of their Toolbox elements. You can already have a look at one of the elements we co-created here.

To read this news in German, please click here. You can also read more about what our collaboration with pupils and schools is like (link in German).


RUVIVAL News Section

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RUVIVAL now has a news section!

Here we will post project announcements and important registration dates for the simulation game or project consultancy. You will also have a chance to get in this section peeks behind the scenes of RUVIVAL. The people behind the project, but also some making off posts are planned. To never miss new learning materials and important announcements, sign up for our free weekly newsletter!

We have recently joined social media. You can now engage with us on Facebook and Twitter, and if you haven’t already, here you can subscribe to our YouTube and Vimeo channels.


If you love our material- sharing is caring. And we made sharing much easier for you: at the bottom of each page, just click on the icon of the platform where you would like to share RUVIVAL content. Spread the word and join us in creating new, not just inhabitable, but liveable spaces!