The challenge of writing a manifesto for innovation in public space at La Marina de Valencia Living Lab was seemingly impossible at a first glance. Writing normative statements about something so fluid as innovation or public space? However, the chosen methodology of the Living Lab demonstrated to be very effective at achieving this goal within a very short three-day period.
All participants were engaged, interested in taking some of the results home, and most importantly, the organizers gathered invaluable cognitive capital on what La Marina de Valencia could become, if synergies are aligned and if the will is there. From the perspective of someone who studies Transdisciplinarity and associated methodologies, the Living Lab holds significant potential when trying to think about such complex challenges. The basics are triangular – gathering a group of people in one place with a joint purpose. Add these three P’s to a timeline and you also get them thinking about the past, the present and the future. This expedite methodology offers meaningful results, as demonstrated by this event, because it focuses on the tacit knowledge pre-selected participants already bring and saves the time-consuming research for a next stage of the process, when maturing the ideas that stem from the Living Lab.
As an academic, I struggle when trying to maintain research transformative. By shifting the logic process from “let’s see what exists before we act” to “let’s have ideas on what we could do and then find out more about their feasibility,” the Living Lab methodology introduces one very important dimension to the process – the creative one. Creativity, intuition and emotional investment are often neglected in current research, even though they are behind every great invention of our times. By allowing participants to think creatively in a playful set that takes responsibility off the table in a first stage, the Living Lab approach harnesses shared strength that will be useful to endure a second stage – that of evaluating which ideas could actually work.
In order to solve today’s most complex and wicked problems, providing a frame that connects people around a specific context (place and purpose) while giving them a timeline, becomes invaluable and a fruitful way to collaborate and co-produce solutions that would probably not exist if the process was different. Through a Transdisciplinarity perspective, this Living Lab excelled at creating what is often called a communicative rationality, or a product of the collaborative processes of co-production that would not be achieved if the communication between the different types of knowledge was conducted in different ways. I’m looking forward to following the development of La Marina and finding out how this moment led to more innovative solutions in its public space.