This is the online first version published on 2021-04-28. Read the most recent version.

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


  • Alexandra Palzkill
  • Karoline Augenstein



urban real-world labs, livable urban space, civil society initiatives, experiments and reflexivity


Cities as places of sustainability transformation are becoming increasingly important in sustainability transition research. One of the key questions here is how to proactively promote an upscaling of urban sustainability niches. Linear strategies for increasing these are often not feasible, because they do not take into account the complexity of transformation processes. Therefore, this paper focuses on the complex relationships between non-sustainable and sustainable structures via the concept of institutional logics, which describes structural rules and can be made visible with the help of narratives. In order to make these explicit and to initiate a reflexive learning process, a temporary experiment was implemented in the real-world lab of Wuppertal and discussed in an illustrative casestudy. The common research and practical question of the experiment was, how to develop livable urban open space. It was examined what constitutes the specific quality of the place from the perspective of its users, which narratives are used, and which institutional logics can be deduced from them. This casestudy will be used to discuss key methodological features and the specific understanding of experiments in the context of real-world labs. The experience gained in the real-world lab in Wuppertal can help to analyse whether an urban area can be developed in an experimental process, what tensions can arise in this process, and what kind of tensions can be expected.


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Research Article

How to Cite

Palzkill A, Augenstein K. Re-designing and re-imagining livable urban space – Insights from a real-world lab . RuR [Internet]. 2021 Apr. 28 [cited 2024 May 25];79(4). Available from: