Antwerp Citylab 2050

In short

Pantopicon collaborates assists the city of Antwerp in running their urban lab: Citylab2050 (Stadslab2050), an experimental garden for the co-creation and spin-out of future-oriented, innovative solutions to render the city more sustainable.

How can local stakeholders formulate bottom-up initiatives to render the City of Antwerp more sustainable in the future? | How does an urban lab change local governance structures? | How can bottom-up initiatives and top-down goals meet in the middle?

the project

Citylab2050 started back in 2012. It functions as a breeding ground for innovative sustainable actions and experiments by and for the urban community (citizens, entrepreneurs, industry,  knowledge institutions, etc.). Besides a clear focus on rendering the city as a whole more sustainable, the project equally aims to gain insight into how an experimental setting such as an urban lab brings about new forms of governance and how these can stimulate the transition to a more sustainable city. Hence, learning is key in this project. In order to emphasise this, Citylab2050 also participates as one of the case studies – alongside urban labs from Maastricht (NL), Malmö (SE), Leoben & Graz (AT) in the EU project Urb@Exp  one of the case studies in the urb@exp project, Pantopicon is also involved in.
With its focus on sustainable innovation, Citylab2050 can be considered a meeting place organised along a series of thematic tracks. Each track goes through a stepwise, co-creative process shaped by the needs, challenges, capabilities and ideas of a diverse group of active participants who engage in everything from collaborative research, ideation, concept generation to testing and implementation of ideas.  Pantopicon designs and facilitates the process for the various tracks, tapping into its wide range of foresight & design methods and tools. Among the tracks initiated so far are:

  • sustainable energy in the city
  • the future of fashion, aka “Fashion flows”
  • sharing for a sustainable city
  • sustainable food for the city
  • sustainable entrepreneurship in the neighbourhood-under-construction Nieuw Zuid

Within the thematic tracks, new cross-links grow between participants, resulting in new initiatives or helping to move the implementation of measures decided upon forward.

Pantopicon’s roles in Citylab2050 are diverse. The team designs and facilitates the co-creation processes, nurtures the debate through input of own knowledge and involvement of domain experts from its network. We create visions and shape ideas, rendering them more tangible. Last but not least, we function as a critical reflector on the lab and its functioning so that this unique experience stimulates learning in an effective way, within the project and at a meta-level, in comparison with other urban labs (e.g. Urb@exp).


innovative experiments
Innovative experiments to render the city more sustainable are the key output of Citylab2050, they drive the urban lab. An experiment is more than an idea, it is an implementation thereof, designed as pilot project from which to learn, to test options, to scale when successful. Experiments make possible futures tangible, fuelling debate and engage people in collaboration and entrepreneurship.
co-creation platform
Citylab2050 is a structure and at the same time a process, which functions as a co-creative innovation platform for the city to inject and experiment with innovative, future-oriented initiatives as well as new forms of governance.
bigger & more diverse network
A bigger and more diverse network of people and organisations for the city to tap into.
key learnings
The urban lab allows participants not only to gain insight into the complex, systemic dimensions of the sustainability themes addressed. It also allows decision makers to gain deeper understanding in terms of ways of organising and running an urban lab, as well as its embedding within governance structures.