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Designing social living labs in urban research

Yvonne Franz (Institute for Urban and Regional Research (ISR), Austrian Academy of Sciences, Vienna, Austria)


ISSN: 1463-6697

Article publication date: 8 June 2015




The purpose of this paper is to develop a more socially centred understanding of living labs for urban research questions by reflecting on current technologically centred and innovation-driven approaches.


The paper takes the form of literature review complemented by conceptual knowledge from practical experiences.


Urban living labs, as they were introduced from a technological and economic point of view, have to be translated into the context of social sciences. By doing so, they may be a promising tool to stimulate co-creation and collaboration also in urban research projects that focus on social research questions and include diverse target groups. Socially centred living labs take into account the local context by developing a space of encounter for the participants in the urban living lab and by implementing a set of living methods that suit both the research design and the local requirements.


This paper argues that urban living labs can be a valuable tool in urban research to include researchers, politicians, local stakeholders and residents in an open concept of co-creation. It argues that a locally contextualised design in terms of space and methods is necessary to create an environment of trust and collaboration.



The author thanks the project team from the JPI Urban Europe Project “ICEC” for their valuable feedback and discussions.


Franz, Y. (2015), "Designing social living labs in urban research", info, Vol. 17 No. 4, pp. 53-66.



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Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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