On Friday 21 June, we took part in the Urban Living Labs Summit, organised by AMS Institute as part of the We Make the City Festival 2019, celebrating urban life, work and knowledge. The Urban Living Labs Summit hosted a range of leading scholars (e.g. Prof. Ellen van Bueren from TU Delft or Niko Alexander Schäpke from Chalmers University) and  urban practitioners (e.g. Paul Manwaring from CITIXL) working on this still new and evolving form of engagement of stakeholders in urban research and innovation in a real-world setting. Marcin Dąbrowski presented some theoretical considerations on the challenges for addressing the question of scale in Living Labs and a methodology for addressing them, developed jointly with Andrea Ueberbacher and Roberto Rocco. The point of departure was that many major urban challenges, like the growing socio-spatial inequalities for instance, are the result of complex and multi-scalar processes (e.g. housing commodification, climate change impacts, uberisation and gig economy). Therefore, the question is how can Urban Living Labs, that most of the time operate on the scale of a neighbourhood or even a building, be to address the big (urban, metropolitan, regional) picture? Building on the work for our recent Horizon 2020 bid, we proposed a methodology that could solve this problem based on a two-level set up of two kinds of labs:

  1. Urban Living Labs to engage in (1) co-creation of knowledge on spatial (in)justice and on the effectiveness of the existing policies to tackle the urban problem (in this case, inequalities); as well as in (2) co-design of innovative experimental solutions to solve it (in our case, to promote spatial justice);
  2. Metropolitan Policy Labs to promote the integration of strategies, sectoral policies and planning activities at the metropolitan scale and explore pathways to upscale local innovations and accelerate the (social) sustainability transition.




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