Urban living labs are considered a form of experiment that can exert or be employed to exercise different forms of power depending on context conditions and momentum of the intervention. They are purposefully fostering learning through an open and engaged experimentation. Additionally, what make urban living labs distinct are the place-explicit (urban) focus and the fact that they experiment with future solutions and/or approaches while addressing a current sustainability problem. They involve multiple actors that seek to intervene with the intention of developing new ways of dealing with contemporary sustainability threats and challenges, innovate with new ways of organizing and critically examine if and how new socio-technical interventions ‘fit’ into specific contexts and can be mobilised beyond specific contexts.
In the GUST project, we have developed a working paper on urban living labs that builds from different theoretical perspectives to uncover the manner in which urban living labs matter for the governance of sustainability transitions. From the review presented in the working paper, we can conclude that conceptual propositions deemed useful for the research project represent converging zones from different theories rather than a single proposition of a new theory, and the investigation of these conceptual propositions will require multiple case studies of different depth, which will be performed through an innovative case study design including snap shots, in-depth and nested case studies. To get a copy of the GUST working paper on urban living labs, contact Kes McCormick, the project coordinator for GUST or download it here.