From Real-World Labs to Urban Experiments: German and International Debates




Real-World Labs, Urban Living Labs, Experiments, Scaling, Sustainability transition


In recent years, real-world labs have become an important part of application-related sustainability research in Germany and Europe. Currently, the international academic debate is shifting more and more towards research on local experiments. Against this backdrop, this paper serves in particular the purpose of placing the German-speaking research on real-world labs within international debates, and of comparing it systematically with debates on urban living labs and experiments. In this context, we concentrate especially on the basic assumptions of these three approaches, their origins and areas of application as well as the importance of learning processes. Although all three approaches aim at urban sustainability transformations, not much is known about their medium- and long-term impacts. Their temporal and spatial scaling, which is critical here, was recognized as problem but has barely become object of systematic research. This paper follows the purpose to enrich the German debate on real-world labs and to link it to the international discussion.


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Issue publication date 2021-08-31 (version 2)
Published online first 2021-08-09 (version 1)


How to Cite

Kern, K. and Haupt, W. (2021) “From Real-World Labs to Urban Experiments: German and International Debates ”, Raumforschung und Raumordnung | Spatial Research and Planning. DE, 79(4), pp. 322-335. doi: 10.14512/rur.48.