March 2024

Reflections from Urban Living Labs: What Is at Stake?

The Urban Europe Research Alliance (UERA) Conference 2024 brought together researchers, experts and city planners last month to share project results on urban mobility in Karlsruhe, Germany. Explore comments and insights from the seminars.

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Urban sustainability transformations require understanding change and learning on all levels of governance and society. Experts and city planners attending the UERA Conference 2024 shared lessons learned and listened to experiences from working with Urban Living Labs, real-word experiments designed to address urban challenges.

Some sessions hosted by the Accessibility and Connectivity knowledge hub for Urban Transformation in Europe (ACUTE) led to reflections among participants on how much is at stake.

Implementing Urban Living Labs

The opposition from citizens to removing spaces for cars isn’t new, but it is a key area for discussion and one of the recurring challenges city planners face when driving transformations in urban planning.

Yet, one Urban Living Labs experiment led to a rather unusual response from some citizens in Karlsruhe. Instead of confronting the removal of car spaces, some citizens supported the initiative and contributed with their private funds to the 15-min City implementation. Although this stands out from the norm, it also reminds us about diversity of opinions and values among residents.

City planners explore ways to improve dialogues, yet they turn to experts too late

City interventions such as redesigning streets can spark strong emotions. In some cities, as was the case in Oxford, announcing the adoption of the 15-minute city model led to a strong backlash. This spotlights what is at stake in city planning and the need for new approaches. Starting this year, the research project CONFLICTEDSTREETS, led by Lund University, will explore processes acknowledging the political and contested nature of change.

At the conference, one of the coordinators within the Urban Europe Research Alliance (UERA) listened to how a city planner mentioned that “they wished to have worked with academics sooner”. Reflecting on this comment, added


“Creating platforms where researchers and city planners meet, and leveraging expertise at the design stage of interventions can play a key role at the implementation phase, in the so called Urban Living Labs.”

— Alain L’Hostis, Research Director at University Gustave Eiffel and Coordinator at the Urban Europe Research Alliance (UERA)


Addressing different interests, needs and perspectives from diverse groups is key in city planning

Insights and results from DUT and JPI Urban Europe research projects could shed light on more inclusive strategies in city planning. This can be the case of JUSTICE, a project exploring accessibility inequalities for some groups, such as blind or physically disabled people. The project will share research results in a final event on 24 April, in Strasbourg.

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Scientific Consultation Workshop: A chance to contribute to the DUT Call

Experts got a glimpse of how the DUT Call topics are developed while contributing to the Scientific Consultation Workshop, celebrated at the UERA Conference. This workshop is just one of the occasions where experts, key stakeholders and practitioners can join forces with the DUT team in defining challenges and research areas.

Join our next 15-minute City event

DUT’s Mapping of 15-minute City Practices – Results Webinar

30 April, 14:00-16:00 CET, online

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