Image by Gabriella-Clare Marino. Source: Unsplash.
Urban experimentation: empty buzzword or byword for genuine change?
In an era of endless 'pilot projects' and so-called 'urban innovation', you would be forgiven for being a little sceptical about the capacity of experimental urban projects to bring about real systemic change.
The COVID-19 pandemic has, however, awakened our belief in such experiments, demonstrating the enduring value of experimentation in our cities.
As more and more temporary bike lanes implemented last Spring are made permanent, more green spaces pop up in city centres, and conversations about moving away from car-centric urban planning move to the mainstream, the power of experiments to bring about paradigm shifts seems once again tangible.
In this month's newsletter, we explore the idea of 'experimental cities', looking at how small-scale urban experiments (and the capacity-building that goes along with them) can potentially lead to wider system change. Could 'experimentalism' be the key to sustainable urban transitions?
EUKN Blog: Urban Voices
Johannes Riegler on... why experimental methods drive urban transitions
Johannes Riegler from JPI Urban Europe shares with us his experiences of funding and developing Urban Living Labs through the Driving Urban Transitions programme. Johannes reflects on what it would take to make co-creative and experimental methods to city-making the "new normal" and how urban experimentation can lead to systemic change.
Birgit Georgi on... Breda's Green Quays Project
Birgit Georgi, urban development expert specialised in climate change and environmental issues. explores how a city's waterways can become greener and more nature-inclusive via "nature-inclusive quays". She presents the case of the GreenQuays pilot project in the city of Breda, Netherlands, which has transformed 'grey' sections of the river Mark into nature-inclusive areas.
Other recent EUKN activities related to experimental cities
EUKN Policy Lab for Spain: Facing and Learning from COVID-19
The EUKN Policy Lab for Spain, organised with the Spanish Ministry of Transport, Mobility, and Urban Agenda (MITMA), was held virtually on 14 January 2021. It offered a platform to reflect on how cities' from across Europe have (experimentally) rethought their approach to urban space in light of COVID-19, focusing on urban health as a holistic concept that encompasses different dimensions of everyday life.
This JPI Urban Europe call welcomes research and innovation projects that enable capacity building for urban transformation, building on existing transformation capacities towards urban sustainability, resilience and livability and using new technologies and tools for implementation of research and innovation and to ensure possibilities for scaling up.
EUKN and Eutropian are joining hands to launch a 4-part webinar series exploring 'collaborative urban futures', kicking off with a first episode on urban circular economies. More info and registration coming soon! Language: English.
Add yourself to the EUKN Expert Pool!
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If your answer to these questions is yes, add yourself to the EUKN expert pool!