This thesis focuses on Urban Living Labs, a young phenomenon that has gained importance in recent years due to the potential it has shown to solve urban challenges in an innovative way. Because of its novelty, the characteristics and outcomes of Urban Living Labs are difficult to study, both theoretically and empirically. The purpose of this research is to increase the knowledge about Urban Living Lab by exploring the relationship between their characteristics and types (concerning the kind of solutions that they propose to urban challenges). In order to help achieve this purpose, the main research question is divided into five sub-questions, two of them to be answered through theoretical research and three to be covered by empirical analysis: What is the relationship between the characteristics and the types (concerning the kind of solutions that they propose to urban challenges) of different Urban Living Labs and how can Urban Living Labs be classified based upon those? The exploratory approach is the best suit for this study, due to the scarcity of academic discussion regarding this subject. The methodology of this research is mainly qualitative; however, it includes the first attempt towards a quantitative analysis, that should be improved in future research. Two types of research design are combined to achieve the research objective. The first one is Systematic Literature Review, to cover the existing academic literature regarding Urban Living Lab. Throughout the Academic Literature Review, it was identified a segmentation in the academic discussion about Urban Living Labs concerning the type of solution that they propose to urban challenges. The three types resulting from this segmentation are technology-driven, transition-driven and citizen-driven. The second type of research design is Case Study, and six projects are analysed to compare how the characteristics are present in different types of Urban Living Labs. The six cases studied in the thesis are The Green Village (NL), Stratumseind 2.0 (NL), ZOHO (NL), Circular Buiksloterham (NL), Living Lab Habitat (BR) and Vrijburcht Community (NL). To study the cases, the methods of research used are interviews with experts and desk research until a saturation point was reached. Each case study resulted in a table compiling a description of characteristics. This table was used to create a definition per type of Urban Living Lab based on the empirical findings. Comparing the case studies and the theory, the main finding regarding the three types of Urban Living Lab concerns the existence of overlaps between them, meaning that one case can be classified in more than one type. It happens because the characteristics, when applied in reallife, are not mutually exclusive and a case can have features from more than one case. This finding is significant because it shows that reality is more complex than the theory suggests, and it creates a path to be explored in future research regarding hybrid-types of Urban Living Labs and how they can be better implemented in practice to achieve the most that this method has to offer in terms of urban innovation to solve current urban challenges.

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Ruijsink, S. (Saskia)
Institute for Housing and Urban Development Studies

Fiúza, M.C.M. (Mariana Costa Marques). (2017, November). Classifying Urban Living Labs. Retrieved from