Urban / Living laboratories in research and policy

Urban Transformations (UT) have become increasingly interested in the institutional form that urban experimentation might take, the role of research in this process and how democratic and citizenship concerns may be balanced with policy and industrial drivers. As a team we have explored some of the potential for Living Lab working and argued that ‘Urban/Living Labs’ (ULLs) are new ways to know cities.

Working in partnership with the European Commission’s Department for Regional and Urban Policy (DG Regio), the European Week of Regions and Cities (EWRC) and the Regional Studies Association (RSA) we assembled a fantastic cast for an interactive session on the promise and possibilities of living and urban lab working. The session was within the stream Regions and cities as change agents( #TakeAction).

In this workshop we heard from possibly the two most powerful advocates of these approaches in Europe; President of ENoLL (Prof Tuija Hirvikoski) and Chair of JPI Urban Europe (Margit Noll).  Both have framed the definition and adoption of these new ways of working across the EU.  Margit announced a new funding stream in the session. Dr Ida Nilstad Pettersen also joined the panel to introduce a project-level example and show how important these approaches may be for sustainability transitions.

Panellists discussed the ways in which ULLs make knowledge work differently to face urban challenges and change the conversation around place by combining the talents of, citizens, industry and government in new configurations and using new methods, such as technology.

The Urban Transformations Team in Oxford have been working to explore the possibilities of international exemplars of lab practices – through a workshop in February on Experimenting with Urban Living Labs Beyond Smart City-Regions and in reports exploring more than 300 international examples.  In this session we sought to reflect on how notions of ‘experimentation’ connect with the challenges of participation and citizen-centricity and how far we can inform collaborative forms for city working.


Participants and Further Information

Prof Michael Keith and Dr Nicola Headlam (session chair) Urban Transformations, University of Oxford

Dr Nicola Headlam is the Urban Transformations & Foresight Future of Cities Knowledge Exchange Research Fellow, funded by the ESRC.  She is to be found (often) tweeting as @networknicola, has been running the @utconnect twitter handle and on nicola.headlam@compas.ox.ac.uk.

Dr Igor Calzada Urban Transformations, University of Oxford

Prof Tuija Hirvikoski,  ENoLL President, will speak on Day 3 of EWRC (11/10/2017) at the session on Urban/Living laboratories in research and policy: where the experimental city meets the participatory city?

Dr Ida Nilstad Pettersen
Ida’s Research interests include Design for sustainability, transition design, participatory design, co-creation, social practices, sustainability transitions, sustainable consumption and production, sustainable urban development, health and welfare.

Margit Noll is Chair of the Management Board of JPI Urban Europe since 2015. She has been involved in the development of the JPI Urban Europe from the beginning in 2009 and is in charge of the strategic development and the implementation of the programme, comprising international outreach, establishment of strategic partnerships and of a stakeholder involvement. Margit is employed by the Austrian Research Promotion Agency FFG