Interrogating urban experiments
Taylor & Francis
© 2016 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/ licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. This is the final version of the article available from Taylor and Francis via the DOI in this record.
The notion of the “urban experiment” has become increasingly prevalent and popular as a guiding concept and trope used by both scholars and policymakers, as well as by corporate actors with a stake in the future of the city. In this paper, we critically engage with this emerging focus on “urban experiments”, and with its articulation through the associated concepts of “living labs”, “future labs”, “urban labs” and the like. A critical engagement with the notion of urban experimentation is now not only useful, but a necessity: we introduce seven specific areas that need critical attention when considering urban experiments: these are focused on normativity, crisis discourses, the definition of “experimental subjects”, boundaries and boundedness, historical precedents, “dark” experiments and non-human experimental agency.
This work was supported by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) [Grant Number: ES/L015978/1].
Published online 9 December 2016