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Jun 20, 2023 Essay
Imagineering the city: the living lab mystique and its discontents

by Dara Ivanova and Sabrina Huizenga

In this essay, we posit that the urban living lab is an object, engulfed in a particular kind of ontological mystique. We show how diverse urban initiatives utilize the label of `lab' strategically, in order to position their practices within the logic of scientific authority and in/exclude different audiences, thus configuring urban participation. The essay links this lab mystique to urban participation by employing the lens of imagineering [van den Berg, 2015], combining imagining and engineering the city in particular participatory configurations. This allows for critical examinations of who is allowed to imagine, experiment and participate in the city through living lab initiatives.

Volume 22 • Issue 03 • 2023 • Special Issue: Living labs under construction: paradigms, practices, and perspectives of public science communication and participatory science