City Labs as vehicles for innovation in urban planning processes

René Kemp, Christian Scholl*

*Corresponding author for this work

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This paper assesses the role of urban experiments for local planning processes through a case-based analysis of the city lab of Maastricht. In conjunction with this, the article offers three contributions, as additional elements. Firstly, the paper develops a set of defining characteristics of city labs as an analytical concept which is relevant for discussions about (collaborative) planning. Secondly, it refines the literature on collaborative planning by drawing attention to experimentation and innovation. Thirdly, the paper assesses the potential of city labs to contribute to the innovation of urban governance. The work draws from the literature on experimentation and learning as well as the literature on collaborative urban planning. In the conclusions, we discuss the potential of city labs as vehicles for learning about new urban planning approaches and their limitations as spaces for small-scale experimentation. The paper is based on research for the URB@Exp research project funded by JPI Urban Europe.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)89-102
JournalUrban Planning
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • boundary work; city labs; co-creation; experimentation; Living Labs; public value creation; urban planning

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