Re-designing and re-imagining livable urban space – Insights from the real-world lab Wuppertal


  • Alexandra Palzkill Bergische Universität Wuppertal
  • Karoline Augenstein Bergische Universität Wuppertal



Urban real-world labs, Livable urban space, Civil society initatives, Experiments, Reflexivity, Wuppertal


Cities as places of sustainability transformation are becoming increasingly important in sustainability and transition research. One of the key questions is how to proactively promote and spread urban sustainability niches. Real-world laboratories are an approach that uses experiments at the sciene-society interface to reflect sustainability challenges in a concrete (urban) context and to proactively foster complex transformation processes. This paper discusses real-world labs as spaces for experimentation and reflexive learning and introduces institutional logics and narratives as conceptual approaches to analyse these. This approach is illustrated using a case study from the real-world laboratory Wuppertal. Together with the civil society initiative “Utopiastadt”, an experiment was carried out to develop liveable urban space. Based on the results of the case study, key methodological features and the specific understanding of experiments in real-world labs are discussed. They are related to experimental approaches in planning science in order to discuss the different understandings and expectations with regard to the use of experiments as well as the potential contributions and complementarities between the two fields of research.


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Issue publication date 2021-08-31 (version 2)
Published online first 2021-04-28 (version 1)




Research Article

How to Cite

Palzkill A, Augenstein K. Re-designing and re-imagining livable urban space – Insights from the real-world lab Wuppertal. RuR [Internet]. 2021 Aug. 31 [cited 2024 May 25];79(4):382-95. Available from: