Collective learning experiences in planning: the potential of experimental living labsReport as inadecuate

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(2015)AESOP 2015 - Definite Space - Fuzzy Responsibility. Mark abstract ‘Living labs’ originate from an R&D environment, and intend to innovate commodities by experience-based knowledge, with a direct involvement of users. Meanwhile, the living labs approach has been shifting into a wider range of applications, and has also ended up in the toolbox of actor- and action-oriented planners. The approach is (implicitly) promoted as a new and better way of combining capacities of different stakeholders by exploring and experimenting in realworld situations. In this paper, we attempt to critically discuss the use of the living lab approach. The first section explores the potential thereof for planning issues: How univocal is the concept of Living Labs? How much do different interpretations and practices of Living Labs resemble in terms of actors involved, actions stimulated, processes promoted and criteria for good practices accepted? The exploration is based on the experience of two experimental living labs, which are compared with a range of international examples. The second section turns to a series of alternative approaches in spatial planning in Flanders: How do the aims and means of these collaborative learning experiences differ? What is the role of users and how important is experimentation? What is the innovative contribution to planning (if any)? How do the practices deal with path dependencies and uncertainties in complex multi-actor settings? We will answer these questions based on research seminars on ‘collective learning’, which are organized for the Policy Research Center Spatial Planning in Flanders, as a part of a work-package which focusses on methodologies for future explorations.

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Author: Annette Kuhk, Michiel Dehaene and Jan Schreurs



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