Tech and the City: A Digital Workshop

Tech and the City: A Digital Workshop

On June 22nd, Share your experience with us!


Save the Date! If you’re interested in finding out more about Tech in the City or on the potential contribution of science in cities in the post-COVID19 period, sign up to our June 22nd digital workshop! Share your experience with us on June 22nd from 2:30pm to 5:30pm by registering right here !
This event builds on the Tech and the city approach adopted and experimented by the city in Reggio Emilia (Emilia-Romagna, Italy) based on the theory of urban co-governance, the city as a commons or “co-cities” theory. Our goal is to bring together cities and key stakeholders working on tech justice at the urban level from the angle of European Institutions, networks of cities, international projects, national governments and regions – and provoke conversations that matter. We have arranged panels of connected participants to provide a forum for discussion. The first session will be devoted to cities sharing their experiences. The second session will focus on science-based evidence from cities and will be followed by presentations of relevant EU level urban initiatives. In the third session of the workshop, there is going to be a “digital roundtable” where EU level stakeholders will be invited to reflect on cities experiences and empirical evidence and discuss the possibilities for a policy uptake on EU citizens’ role in promoting science, research and innovation in cities. 

The form accessible here can be filled out to register to the digital workshop, we are looking forward to hearing from you on June 22nd !

CO-CITY Turin Final Event

CO-CITY Turin Final Event

On the 14th of February 2020 LabGov will participate in the final conference of the CO-CITY Turin project. The event will wrap up the project and prepare for the activities of To-Nite, the new initiative financed by the Urban Innovative Actions programme.

Following the interventions of egregious speakers like Chiara Appendino, Veronica Nicotra and Marianna Mazzucato, Christian Iaione, LabGov’s co-founder and UIA Expert for Co-City Turin, will moderate a roundtable on the urban challenges and the collaboration paradigm in Europe.

The conference will be held in Italian – please find further details below

“Il 14 febbraio 2020 avrà luogo il convegno che conclude le attività del progetto Co-City e avvia quelle di To-Nite, il nuovo progetto torinese finanziato dal programma Urban Innovative Actions.

Nel corso degli ultimi tre anni il progetto Co-City ha favorito la collaborazione di centinaia di cittadine e cittadini che hanno presentato proposte di collaborazione per la cura condivisa dello spazio e del verde pubblico, molti di loro hanno anche partecipato alla campagna di comunicazione Mi prendo cura della città. 

I Patti di Collaborazione  e le attività al centro del progetto Co-City saranno presentati il 14 febbraio presso la Casa del Quartiere Cecchi Point.

Il 15 febbraio ne scopriremo qualcuno: I PATTI IN TOUR – 6 tappe alla scoperta dei Patti di Collaborazione

Nel corso dell’incontro saranno presentati anche il Manuale di diritto dei beni comuni urbani di Rocco Albanese ed Elisa Michelazzo del Dipartimento di Giurisprudenza dell’Università di Torino, che si rivolge a funzionari/e e cittadini/e attivi con proposte interpretative e soluzioni pratiche, e le sperimentazioni in materia di blockchain emerse dal lavoro del Dipartimento di Informatica dell’Università di Torino.”

Per più informazioni:

PROGRAMMA 14 Febbraio

9.00 Registrazione partecipanti

9.30: Saluti istituzionali

Chiara Appendino, Sindaca di Torino

Stefano Geuna, Rettore dell’Università di Torino

Marialessandra Sabarino, Presidente Fondazione Cascina Roccafranca

Veronica Nicotra, Segretario Generale ANCI

Introduce e modera: Simone d’Antonio – ANCI

10.00: Pier Paolo Saraceno, Segretariato Permanente UIA, L’innovazione urbana in Europa

10.15: Mariana Mazzucato, UCL Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose (Video): L’innovazione nella pubblica amministrazione

10.30: Anna Tornoni, Valter Cavallaro, Giovanni Ferrero, Emanuela Casula (Città di Torino): Il progetto CO-CITY

Intervengono tecnici e operatori della Città, delle Circoscrizioni, delle Case del quartiere, che hanno partecipato alla realizzazione del progetto

11.15 Coffee break

11.30 Tavola rotonda 1/ Complessità urbane e paradigma collaborativo in Europa.

Introduce e modera: Christian Iaione, UIA Expert Torino

Intervengono: Laura Colini (Barcellona), Levente Polyak (Atene), Nils Scheffler (Birmingham)

13.00 Marco Giusta, Assessore alle Periferie e ai Beni Comuni di Torino Nuove prospettive e opportunità per le politiche urbane dei beni comuni

13.15 Light lunch

14.15 Tavola rotonda 2/ La cassetta degli attrezzi di Co-city

Introduce e modera: Alessandra Quarta, Università di Torino

Intervengono: Rocco Albanese (Università di Torino), Elisa Michelazzo (Università di Torino), Alex Cordero (Università di Torino), Federica Giuliani (Città di Torino)

15.45 Coffee break

16.00 Tavola rotonda 3/ Le prospettive del governo dei beni comuni in Italia

Introduce e modera: Paolo Testa, ANCI

Intervengono: Marco Giusta (Assessore alle Periferie e ai Beni Comuni di Torino), Valeria Montanari (Assessore alla Partecipazione di Reggio Emilia), Ilaria Segala (Assessore alla Pianificazione Urbanistica di Verona), Lorenzo Lipparini (Assessore alla Partecipazione di Milano), Matteo Lepore (Assessore all’Immaginazione civica di Bologna), Cristina Leggio (Assessore alla Partecipazione di Latina)

17.30 Chiusura dei lavori

Book Review: “Messy Urbanism, Understanding the ‘Other’ Cities of Asia”

Book Review: “Messy Urbanism, Understanding the ‘Other’ Cities of Asia”

Edited by Manish Chalana and Jeffrey Hou  

Grasping the complexity of urban life in dense and chaotic city spaces continues to be one of the main puzzles urban planners, sociologists, architects and urban dwellers alike try to solve. The book aims to provide a deeper understanding of the heterogeneity of the apparent disorder of Asian cities. More than what can be judged by an external eye as messy, Asian urban realities have an order, functioning, cultural meaning, and history of their own that the different authors help us discover.

Central to the book edited by Manish Chalana and Jeffrey Hou, is a reflection on normative dichotomies between formal/informal, order/chaos, legal/illegal and the impact that these dichotomies have on urban planning practices and discourses regarding the complexity of Asian Cities. In the first chapter, Chalana and Hou frame the debate on the notion of messiness and introduce the main tensions at stake analyzed by the articles in the book. Through multiple case studies, from Hong Kong to Manila, Tokyo to Ho Chi Minh City, the book deconstructs the meaning of messiness, bringing to the surface the specific colonial, racial, and class underpinnings hidden behind it. Messiness, as defined by the editors in Chapter 1, refers to activities and structures that do not follow institutionalized or culturally prescribed notions of order.

As previously mentioned, different authors throughout the book develop their chapters on a specific reality of messiness. If Chapter 1 serves as an introduction to the collection of articles, Chapter 2 directly presents us with anhistorical account of attempts at controlling the sidewalks of HCMC. Kim unveils the consequences on street life caused by colonial city building, regulation, independence and war, post-war nationalism and recent economic liberalization in Vietnam. Kim points out that the desire to order the streets has been constant through the various historical periods, and so has been the failure in controlling their fervent activities.

Chapter 3 similarly reflects on the power relationships that inform the practices of ordering and messiness. Kusno presents an historical understanding of Jakarta’s urbanism to show how the organization of knowledge changes in time in order to make of messiness a pretext for governing. The author moreover uses the example of the growing presence of motorbikes to highlight how messiness and informality can become an insurgent practice in itself, a re-appropriation of the urban space through mobility. 

Chapter 4 and chapter 5 bring us to Manila and Bangkok, putting forward the importance of space and the embedded cultural and historical meanings that define it. Indeed, the disordered layering of multiethnic urbanity in Manila assumes a new significance through Gomez’s account of the semiotics of urban space. When looking at the urban mosaic of Manila we realize that its messiness is in reality a form of cultural concordance and dynamicity, of layered and intermingled realities.  In the case of Bangkok, Noobanjong also highlights the embeddedness of urban space in cultural and historical contexts through the example of Sanam Luang or Royal Field. Showing how the symbolic role of the Royal Field has changed during royal, military and democratic rule, the author joins other writers in the book in defining space as a device for the State to manifest and implement its hegemonic powers.

Similar to Gomez’s analysis of Manila, chapters 6 and 7 highlight the multiple layering of urban life. Exploring the theme of urban development and its effect on pre-existing structures, Oshima walks us through the long history of Shinjuku’s transportation and commerce node. The vernacular urbanism of Shinjuku provides an example of urban stratifications provide the dynamicity of urban experience. It is the production of meaning and practices springing from messiness that is highlighted by Daisy Tam in Chapter 7. Little Manila in Hong Kong becomes the spatial embodiment of insurgent planning in that the domestic Pilipino workers that occupy the CBD’s space on Sundays resist and redefine the ideal use of the urban space.

Chapter 8 also deals with contested urban space. Presenting the example of Mong Kok Flower Market in Hong Kong, the chapter points to the tension that exists between policy makers’ top-down planning decisions and the needs of citizens’ everyday lives. The conflicts at the Flower Market therefore also show how urban actors manage to compromise and act in a strategic way so to ensure their existence within the formal and institutional structures.

Chapter 9 returns to a post-colonial perspective in order to advocate against formalization and relocation policies with regards to informal settlements in Delhi, India. Through examples of livelihoods in Kathpuli Colony the authors show that formalization practices erase local knowledge and the local cultural structures based on which housing was built.

Chapter 10 distinguishes itself for introducing a new analytical framework. The author indeed interprets messiness as a result of transnational networks and connections that were formed in the making of the city of Chandigarh, India. Chandigarh’s architectural identity represents an example of a modernism that has been reappropriated by non-western cities.

Finally, chapter 11 and chapter 12 return to the analysis of messiness as a contested political notion. Hou in chapter 11 introduces the concept of tactical urbanism, that is, temporary tactics like the setting up of night street markets that allow the activities of these temporary urban dwellers to thrive in the cracks, so to speak, of the formal and institutional structure of the city. To conclude, Chapter 12 discusses the impact of Chinese paternalistic and developmentalist modern State practices in Quanzhou on community participatory practices and environmentally sensitive planning.

“Messy urbanism” develops a deep analysis of the meaning and historical underpinnings of urban informality. Though as hard as it can be because of the different locations and nuances of messy urbanism they deal with, the chapters lack a continuity of analysis between them. The organization of the book would have benefitted from a grouping of chapters according to their thematic and analytical framework. Because of this internal messiness the reader sometimes tends to get lost in each abstract and very specific production of knowledge without understanding what are the main narratives.

On the other hand the editors have succeeded in tying together the chapters to the overall thematic focus on messy urbanism. Analyzed in its totality, the book does a good job at reminding the reader of the importance of cultural subjectivity, historical contexts and power relationships built in urban practices.

While entering the very congested academic debate on urban informality this book provides a refreshing approach to the question of “disorderly” urbanism, cleverly using messiness as both a prism and a conceptual limit to overcome when reflecting on the chaotic nature of urban life. If the book does focus on specific contextual and historical circumstances in South-East and North-East Asia, its thematic interests contributes to answer the question of how to govern informality in today’s megalopolises of the world. It joins other authors like Castels, Portes, Roy, Al Sayyad, and Simone[1] in explaining that informal practices are not limited to survival strategies and rational economic behaviors of the urban poor but rather, they represent and are embedded in cultural and historical patterns. It is important to underline such a refusal of the liberal economic analysis of urban informal practices as framed by authors like De Soto[2] because they often end up completely ignoring the political significance of informal practices. Following Asef Bayat’s famous essay on the politics of the informal people, this book succeeds in recognizing the inherent political nature of the informal order.


Al Sayyad N., Roy A. (eds), 2004, Urban Informality: Transnational Perspectives from the Middle East, Latin America and South Asia, Lanham and London, Lexington Books

Bayat, Asef. “Un-Civil Society: The Politics Of The ‘Informal People'”. Third World Quarterly 18.1 (1997): 53-72. Web.

Chalana, Manish, and Jeffrey Hou. Messy Urbanism: Understanding The “Other” Cities Of Asia. 1st ed. HKU Press, 2016. Print.

De Soto H., 1986, The Other Path: The Invisible Revolution in the Third World, New York, Harpercollins [English ed., 1989]

Portes A., Castells M., Benton L. (eds), 1989, The Informal Economy: Studies in Advanced and Less Developed Countries, Baltimore, John Hopkins University Press

Simone, A. Jakarta: Drawing the City Near, University of Minnesota Press: Minneapolis, 2014

Photo credits:
Photo by Roberto Verzo via Flickr Creative Commons,

[1] Portes A., Castells M., Benton L. (eds), 1989, The Informal Economy: Studies in Advanced and Less Developed Countries, Baltimore, John Hopkins University Press.

Al Sayyad N., Roy A. (eds), 2004, Urban Informality: Transnational Perspectives from the Middle East, Latin America and South Asia, Lanham and London, Lexington Books.

Simone, A. Jakarta: Drawing the City Near, University of Minnesota Press: Minneapolis, 2014.

[2] De Soto H., 1986, The Other Path: The Invisible Revolution in the Third World, New-York, Harpercollins [English ed., 1989]

LabGov Summer Reads

LabGov Summer Reads

Happy summer everybody!

Whether you are relaxing on a beach or you are lacking ideas for books to read this fall, have a look at LabGov’s random and inexhaustive summer reads suggestions.

Feel free to share this article and comment with your favorite city reads on our social media pages using the #LabGovReads hashtag!

The Co-Cities Open Book  by LabGov

The result of years of research and experimentations on the field to investigate new forms of collaborative city-making that are pushing urban areas towards new frontiers of participatory urban governance, inclusive economic growth and social innovation.

  • The Lonely City: Adventures in the Art of Being Alone by Olivia Laing
The Lonely City: Adventures in the Art of Being Alone by Olivia Laing

  • The Fate of Rome. Climate, Disease and the End of an Empire by Kyle Harper

  • Nature’s Metropolis: Chicago and the Great West by William Cronon

  • Calcutta: Two years in the City by Amit Chaudhuri

  • Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino

  • The Municipalists by Seth Fried

  • Tokyo on Foot: Travels in the City’s Most Colorful Neighborhoods by Florent Chavouet

  • Delirious New York by Rem Koolhas

Radical Cities. Across Latin America in Search of a New Architecture by Justin McGuirk

For some more committed readers and a more serious beach vibe:

  • All That is Solid Melts into Air by Marshall Berman

  • Alger, Capitale de la Révolution (French) – Algiers, Third World Capital (English – Verso) by Elaine Mokhtefi

  • A Moving Border. Alpine Cartographies of Climate Change by Marco Ferrari, Elisa Pasqual, and Andrea Bagnato

  • Extreme Cities. The Peril and Promise of Urban Life in the Age of Climate Change by Ashley Dawson

  • Race, Class and Politics in the Cappuccino City by Derek S. Hyra

  • Palaces for the People by Eric Klinenberg

  • Patients of the State. The Politics of Waiting in Argentina by Javier Auyero

  • Invisible in Austin, edited by Javier Auyero

Other great sources for books:

Source of images:, , ,,,,,,,

LabGov / Co-City is hiring!

LabGov / Co-City is hiring!

Project Fellow Opening: CO-CITY BATON ROUGE

The Marron Institute of Urban Management – NYU and LabGov are hiring a Project Fellow to work with Professor Sheila Foster (Georgetown and LabGov) and Professor Clayton Gillette, Director of the Marron Institute, on an urban revitalization project in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

The project fellow will manage the combined effort of the Marron Institute and LabGov to bring a previously tested, co-governance approach (the “Co-City”) to Baton Rouge. The Co-City approach is rooted in a decade-long application and experimentation of various projects in distressed cities and neighborhoods, starting in European cities and continuing today in places as diverse as Amsterdam, Bologna, Turin, New York, Sao Paolo, and San Jose, Costa Rica. In each of these cities a variety of civic, neighborhood, and infrastructure goods and services are produced and managed through different forms of “pooling” and cooperation among five possible actors—public authorities, businesses, civil society organizations (NGOs), local social innovators, and academic/knowledge institutions. The Baton Rouge Co-City project will instigate a Co-City “cycle” or process that creates the environment for participants and stakeholders to arrive at locally adaptive, experimental and co-produced institutions, policies or practices. The Co-City process will operate in parallel to a comprehensive planning and redevelopment process overseen by the East Baton Rouge Redevelopment Authority.

To learn more about the Co-City Baton Rouge project and the requirements for the project fellow position, please visit this link.