Urban Planning by Experiment: Practices, Outcomes, and Impacts

Open Access Journal | ISSN: 2183-7635

Editorial | Open Access

Urban Planning by Experiment: Practices, Outcomes, and Impacts


  • Christian Scholl Maastricht Sustainability Institute, Maastricht University, The Netherlands
  • Joop de Kraker Maastricht Sustainability Institute, Maastricht University, The Netherlands / Department of Environmental Sciences, Open Universiteit, The Netherlands


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Abstract:  The impact of urban experimentation on urban planning approaches is so far insufficiently assessed and discussed. This thematic issue sets out to investigate the possibilities and limitations of ‘urban planning by experiment,’ defined as an approach that uses experimentation to innovate and improve urban planning instruments, approaches, and outcomes. It brings together eight contributions presenting original research on urban experimentation and its relation to urban planning. All contributions are empirically grounded in (illustrative) case studies, mostly from European cities. Here, we summarize and discuss the major findings across the eight contributions with respect to three key themes: the practices of urban experimentation, its outcomes, and its impacts on urban planning. We conclude that the practices of urban experimentation described in the contributions generated a wide variety of substantive and learning outcomes, which, according to the authors, represent worthwhile additions or alternatives to the current repertoire of approaches and instruments of urban planning. However, except for a single case, large-scale integration of experimentation in established approaches to urban planning was not observed, let alone a complete transformation of urban planning practices. An area for further research concerns the relation between the way urban experiments are organized and conducted, and their impact on urban planning.

Keywords:  sustainable urban development; urban experiments; urban planning; urban transformation

Published:   26 March 2021


DOI: https://doi.org/10.17645/up.v6i1.4248


© Christian Scholl, Joop de Kraker. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.