The imperative of experimentation as a means of planning and policy testing in cities has been showcased over the past years especially for unlocking governance innovations for sustainability. Experimentation as a form of governance for sustainability transitions has been advocated from transition scholars (Frantzeskaki, Loorbach and Meadowcroft, 2012; Frantzeskaki, Wittmayer and Loorbach, 2014; Smith and Raven, 2012; Pereira, Karpouzoglou, Doshi and Frantzeskaki, 2015; Wolfram and Frantzeskaki, 2016) and from geography scholars (Castan-Broto and Bulkeley, 2014), showing that intervening to governance dynamics in cities with new lessons and new forms of innovation has the potential to reroute urban development to more sustainable outcomes. Even though experimentation can be realised through various formats and across different scales, we chose to examine the setting of urban living labs (ULL) as a format of urban experimentation. ULL focus on stimulating certain processes via which governance experimentation is designed, tested and implemented (Voytenko, McCormick, Evans and Schliwa, 2015). ULL are aimed at co-creation and empowerment of multiple stakeholders in co-shaping an experimental approach (Edwards-Schachter, Matti and Alcántara, 2012; Lehmann, Frangioni and Dubé, 2015) and being open and participatory (Franz, 2015). The experimentation in these labs is often placed in a geographical area in the sense that they represent ecosystems of open “urban” innovation, and are situated in a real urban context where the process in focus is taking place. This may be a region, an agglomeration, a city, a district or neighborhood or a building. ULL are also tied to a certain local context that surrounds the “lab” in question and determines its (symbolic) meaning.

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Persistent URL dx.doi.org/10.4324/9781315230641, hdl.handle.net/1765/109428
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van Steenbergen, F, & Frantzeskaki, N. (2018). The importance of place for urban transition experiments: Understanding the embeddedness of urban living labs. In Urban Living Labs: Experimenting with City Futures (pp. 231–247). doi:10.4324/9781315230641