Experimenting the city: Between incremental projectification and urban transformation

Conference: 6th Global Conference on Economic Geography, University College Dublin & Trinity College Dublin, 07–10 June 2022

Organizers: Gernot Grabher (HafenCity University Hamburg), Lars Coenen (HVL Bergen and University of Oslo)

Experiments in the urban context afford an imaginative infrastructure (Kohler 2002) that can be deployed in various ways (Evans et al. 2021). In terms of innovation, experiments can afford the arena for prototyping novel solutions, and the involvement of citizens as co-creators yields both more locally appropriate solutions and the procedural legitimacy of open innovation (Mello Rose et al. 2020). However, they also can be conceptually impoverished by reducing the urban arena to a commercial demonstration site. In terms of governance, experimentalism may render urban innovation more political and contested (Coenen and Morgan 2020); simultaneously, the experiment has become integral to a potentially post-political turn to mission policies. In their rush to chase global sustainable development goals, local experiments on the ground are impaired by projectification tendencies that induce short-termism and unambitious incrementalism (Torrens and von Wirth 2021).

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