City Lab Barcelona is a blog about experiments in urban planning. The word ‘experiments’ can take on different meanings, and here I use ‘experiment’ to refer to ‘doing things that are new or different’ but also, and perhaps more importantly, ‘to test formal hypothesis about how cities work’. Experiments are always exciting because we do not know in advance what the outcome may be. In this sense, city planners are experimenting all the time, testing new ways of engaging with the public or new ways of promoting sustainability.
I have already made the case for formal urban experiments in the City Fix and academic writings such as here and here. This blog will be a place to extend my argument for urban experimentation. I also hope to engage in productive exchange and learn from others who are ‘thinking experimentally’.
Right now, most urban experiments are informal and there are very few formal experiments. I hope (and expect) that in the next decade we will increasingly see more formal urban experiments that will help us learn about how cities work.
My laboratory for urban experimentation in the next decade will be the city of Barcelona (Catalonia, Spain). As a compact city, with a fascinating urban history and a progressive electorate, Barcelona has already developed several provocative urban experiments, making it the ideal city in which to push these issues further.
Inevitably, this blog will include commentary on urban experiments being developed by local city planners who are working on novel programs, street designs and new city configurations that aim to make this city more livable and healthier. What can we learn from these city experiments? If we experiment, what are we learning?