Open Access Journal

ISSN: 2183-7635

Article | Open Access

City Labs as Vehicles for Innovation in Urban Planning Processes

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Abstract:  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.

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



© Christian Scholl, René Kemp. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (, which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.