Positioning urban labs – a new form of smart governance?

Smas, Lukas and Schmitt, Peter and Perjo, Liisa and Tunström, Moa (2016) Positioning urban labs – a new form of smart governance? REAL CORP 2016 – SMART ME UP! How to become and how to stay a Smart City, and does this improve quality of life? Proceedings of 21st International Conference on Urban Planning, Regional Development and Information Society. pp. 919-923.

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In the current era, in which cities are considered key arenas for coping with a number of societal challenges, there is also renewed interest in the mobilisation of experimental practices within urban planning. A growing interest in innovative intiatives emphasising co-creation, exploration, experimentation, and evaluation, such as urban living labs must also be understood in relation to the uncertatinity regarding the modern growth paradigm and its institutional arrangements: “the pragmatist heritage of urban laboratories gains renewed strength in the current era in which the belief in modernity, progress and development is in crisis” (Karvonen & van Heur, 2014, p. 387). This paper provides a sympathetic critique of the notion of urban living labs and related expeimental practices from an urban planning and governance persepective. In this light, we argue that the core principels of urban living labs (i.e. co-creation, exploration, experimentation, and evaluation) offer a useful theortical frame to understand and position different informal self-organizing initiatives in contemporary urban development. Furthermore, we assert that, considered as a planning practice (or methodology), urban living labs can be construed as a temporary mode of soft governance which include a number of merits in terms of definig new innovative pathways for urban planning beyond business as usual thinking. However, caution must be taken due to the urban living lab’s inherent shortcomings in terms of demorcractic legitimacy, tendencies towards exclusiveness, and extreme temporality. In conclusion, we argue that urban living labs can be an environment for exploring new forms of smart urban governance through critical engagments with communicative planning theory and an explict focus on actor-relations.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: urban living lab, urban governance, experimentation, co-creation, communicative planning
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HB Economic Theory
H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor
J Political Science > JS Local government Municipal government
Depositing User: REAL CORP Administrator
Date Deposited: 22 Jul 2016 10:03
Last Modified: 22 Jul 2016 10:03
URI: http://repository.corp.at/id/eprint/179

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