In these ‘Guidelines for Social Housing Living Labs’ we bring together a series of recommendations and suggestions to improve regeneration actions, strategies, policies and plans for large-scale social housing estates. They are based on our experiences as action researchers in three national urban contexts (Brussels in Belgium, Milan in Italy and Paris in France) of large-scale social housing where we set up on-site investigations following a Living Lab approach. Living Labs originate in the exact and technical sciences and refer to experiments conducted in ‘real life situations’, testing appliances, concepts and innovations. Similarly, we conceive social housing living labs as academic research conducted in, with and for social housing estates and their residents in need of, or undergoing regeneration actions, strategies, policies and plans.
However, in these guidelines we want to look beyond the borders of academic research and our research context of large-scale housing estates. We have attempted to bring together a series of recommendations that are relevant for many actors in society who are concerned with improving the spatial and living conditions in urban neighborhoods and communities that face socio-economic or spatial exclusion (sometimes denoted as precarious, fragile or marginalized territories). So, these guidelines do not have the intention or goal to develop a blueprint or definition for Social Housing Living labs -we consider the Living Lab rather as a means for successful regeneration practices that take into account the capacities and knowledge of residents and all actors involved.
Therefor in the following 7 points, we compile suggestions for ‘ways of doing’ that can hopefully inspire policy makers at various policy levels, designers, urbanists, planners, architects, researchers, social workers and engaged citizens who are in some ways involved in the regeneration of housing estates or other neighborhoods. These suggestions are meant to help them improve their practices and approaches.