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Call for Papers : Urban Planning by Experiment (Abstract Submission 31/01/2020


Urban Planning by Experiment


Christian Scholl (Maastricht University, The Netherlands) and Joop de Kraker (Maastricht University, The Netherlands)

Submission of Abstracts: 31 January 2020
Submission of Full Papers: 30 June 2020
Publication of the Issue: January/February 2021


Worldwide, cities have witnessed a surge of experimentation in order to learn about complex urban problems and possible solutions. Scholars have started to conceptualize often diverse practices as “urban labs” (Karvonen & van Heur, 2014), “urban experimentation” (Evans, Karvonen, & Raven, 2016) and even coined it a form of “governance by experiment” (Bulkeley & Castán Broto, 2013). The trend of urban experimentation often manifests itself by urban (living) labs (Scholl et al., 2018), city labs (Scholl & Kemp 2016) or transition labs (Nevens, Frantzeskaki, Gorissen, & Loorbach, 2013). They can be seen as city-focused variation of policy experimentation (Huitema, Jordan, Munaretto, & Hildén, 2018) including the exploration of new ways of co-creation in urban multi-stakeholder settings (Puerari et al., 2017).

The increasing complexity of cities and urban problems place challenges on established practices of urban planning. Urban experimentation seems to yield great potential for informing and re-directing established urban planning approaches. However, the concept has been used for a diversity of practices within and across cities and has not yet been investigated specifically from an urban planning perspective. More importantly, the impact of urban experimentation on urban planning approaches is so far insufficiently assessed and discussed. Therefore, this thematic issue invites contributions discussing empirical research on urban experimentation from the conceptual angle of “urban planning by experiment.” We invite research papers that focus on one or several of the following aspects:

  • The process of experimental forms of urban planning: how do different cities run experiments? Which stakeholders are included, and which steps taken? What are good practices and challenges encountered throughout these processes?
  • The outputs of experimentation: to what results does planning by experiment lead? And where and how are those results taken up?
  • The repertoire of “planning by experiment”: what happens when the urban planning process itself becomes and experiment? In how far do experimental approaches contribute to urban planning and innovate established practices?


Bulkeley, H., & Castán Broto, V. (2013). Government by experiment? Global cities and the governing of climate change. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, 38, 361–375.

Evans, J., Karvonen, A., & Raven, R. (2016). The experimental city: New modes and prospects of urban transformation. In J. Evans, A. Karvonen, & R. Raven (Eds.), The experimental city (pp. 1–12). Oxon and New York, NY: Routledge.

Nevens, F., Frantzeskaki, N., Gorissen, L., Loorbach, D. (2013). Urban transition labs: Co-creating transformative action for sustainable cities. Journal of Cleaner Production, 50(1), 111–122.

Huitema, D., Jordan, A., Munaretto, S., Hildén, M. (2018). Policy experimentation: Core concepts, political dynamics, governance and impacts. Policy Sciences, 51(2), 143–159.

Karvonen, A., & van Heur, B. (2014). Urban laboratories: Experiments in reworking cities. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 38(2), 379–392.

Puerari, E., de Koning, J., von Wirth, T., KarreÌ�, P., Mulder, I., & Loorbach, D. (2018). Co-creation dynamics in urban living labs. Sustainability, 10(6).

Scholl, C., & Kemp, R. (2016). City labs as vehicles for innovation in urban planning and governance. Urban Planning, 1(4), 89–102.

Scholl, C., de Kraker, J., Hoeflehner, T., Eriksen, M. A., Wlasak, P., & Drage, T. (2018). Transitioning urban experiments. Reflections on doing action research with urban labs. GAIA, 27(S1), 78–84.