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Andreas Panagidis


Andreas Panagidis is an architect and planner, with an MA in Architecture from the Royal Danish Academy. During his professional practice as an architect both in Cyprus, the UK and the US, Andreas has gained experience primarily involved in residential projects of various scales and sectors. After obtaining a second masters degree in 2020, the MSc in Urban and Regional Planning from the University of Amsterdam, he has been working as a research assistant at the Department of Architecture at The University of Cyprus, engaged in an affordable housing, eco-neighbourhood research project. His personal research interests are in the pursuit of transcending scalar and disciplinary boundaries between architecture, planning and geography and in investigating the liminal spaces between homes, neighbourhoods and the commons. With the research project "Urban living labs and the role of users in the co-creation of sustainable housing" he will explore participatory practices, processes of co-production and local governance at the community level.

Research topic

Updated sumaries

April, 01, 2022

September, 17, 2021

Housing as Social Infrastructure: Urban Living Labs for Planing Experimentation at the Neighbourhood Level


Increasingly, cities are understood as the infrastructural, spatial and material expressions of urbanisation that are entangled with the social and environmental realms that they co-constitute. The bundle of urban economic, socio-spatial and environemtal assemblages has become so complex  that urban research has pointed to transdisiplinarity and the need for further investigation of social sustainability (Murphy, 2012; Vallance et al., 2011), identifying “the community space as the main arena for the achievement of sustainability” (Colantonio & Dixon, 2009, p. 20). Consequently, a closer investigation of the spatial understanding of social sustainability and the conditions for its materialisation also presents the opportunity for exploring housing as embedded in wider contexts and within community infrastructure, re-establishing the importance of the local scale of the neighbourhood (Shirazi & Keivani, 2017). Furthermore, the interplay of housing and the distribution of public resources determined at the neighbourhood scale, prompt the revisiting of the call for a just city (Fainstein, 2014), how decisions are made and the consideration of alternatives to existing distributions of power.


Μany approaches to these overlapping issues are arguably captured by a promising trajectory linked to aspects of social sustainability which places emphasis on the integration of what is referred to as “hard” and “soft” social infrastructure, referring to the merging of the physical and social aspects of urban infrastructure. In addition, growing interest in experimentation that specifically prioritises the active engagement of users themselves is receiving more attention in the emergence of Urban Living Labs (ULLs) (Bulkeley et al., 2016; Puerari et al., 2018; von Wirth et al., 2019; Voytenko et al., 2016)⁠.


In ULLs, locally-relevant knowledge is prioritised at a scale that engages individuals by embedding or contextualising urban experimental practices into existing local structures, i.e. in their cultural and spatial real-life context. Importantly, a specific type of ULL is initiated up by municipalities or researchers and are labelled as City Labs in order to develop new local planning processes in real life settings with the input of citizens at the centre of innovation (Höflehner & Zimmermann, 2016; Scholl & de Kraker, 2021; Scholl & Kemp, 2016). Hence, a gap in research that calls for further investigation is how innovative and more inclusive approaches of citizen participation in planning influence the development of alternative urban governance arrangements and reduce the hierarchy of established processes of housing development.


I am to investigate the above problematics by framing the investigation of housing embedded in social infrastructure, setting the foundation for civic engagement with the state and providing under-resourced citizens the tools and decision-making power for the co-creation of resources that go beyond the building scale. Therefore, housing also understood as social infrastructure is conceived as a gateway to other essential infrastructures that are especially important in local planning. Furthermore, I aim to develop a conceptual framework that reinforces the under-researched concept of commons planning (Marcuse, 2009) to deal with the redistribution of power which ensures that community-based interests come first in local planning decisions.


The research question proposed is: How do citizens participate in Urban Living Labs for planning experimentation at the neighbourhood level?


The governance arrangement for this undertaking is expected to be facilitated by the setup of a partnership with a municipality and a housing association for the use of vacant land within an existing residential area. The collaborative governance arrangements will be at the focus of analysis concerning the conditions for co-production of social infrastructure that empower citizens to contribute to local governance through collective action. An ULL/City Lab will be set up to undertake this experimental form of action research in Nicosia, Cyprus with the ultimate goals of establishing new forms of neighbourhood development by engaging residents in partnership with a municipality and other planning actors. Expanding the scope of housing research to engage urban infrastructure and more active forms of citizenship, may provide powerful means for investigating more democratic configurations of local governance of land division/parcellation and housing production. The location of the ULL will depend on the need for community infrastructure improvements and the enhancement of social sustainability in a neighbourhood as well as the willingness of a municipality to collaborate with residents in local governance processes.


Reference documents

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Research plan


Urban Living Labs and the Role of Users in the Co-Creation of Sustainable Housing: Housing as Community Infrastructure


The priorities of contemporary urban-environmental policy are increasingly being criticised for not producing equitable inhabitations as an underlying pro-business agenda has been found in tension especially with the social goals of sustainability and leading to negative interrelated socio-environmental consequences. Moreover, the tried techno-managerial approaches to sustainable urban development are being criticised for failing in the governance of urban spaces and disempowering citizens as the access to affordable housing and sustainable neighbourhoods is becoming increasingly inequitable. In the face of mounting risks from climate change, systemic transformations at many different levels are not only becoming increasingly urgent, they are perhaps imperative for re-defining sustainable development and addressing these contemporary urban challenges.

One approach that addresses the complexity of such urban problems recognises that sustainability and affordability of housing should be addressed simultaneously, responding to the interests of communities. Collaborative forms of governance and collectively managed socio-spatial resources discussed in research on the urban commons, are emerging paradigms of alternative practices influencing contemporary housing discourses. More recently, the importance of a place-based approach to innovation and urban experimentation highlights the role of the local context in sustainability transitions and social innovation literature. This research will investigate practices in housing design by looking at the surrounding socio-ecological contexts, place-making processes and other aspects that ‘localise’ housing.

It is also still largely unstudied how social dimensions of sustainable development, for example social cohesion, and sense of place can contribute to housing research at the intersection of the home and its supporting urban systems. This is especially important in the design of affordable housing environments which should afford lower-income residents connections to community resources and broader sets of opportunities. The Urban Living Lab approach will be used in the co-production of collaborative knowledge, involving interactions between the local community and public authorities to form strategies for  place-based action in residential environments that support housing and may lead to housing as a form of infrastructure embedded in community-driven social, economic and ecological processes.


Recent activity

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Novel approaches to participation in planning

Posted on 11-05-2022

During my recent secondment at the University of Reading, School of Architecture I was lucky enough to participate in the Urban Room, part of the Community Consultation for Quality of Life (CCQoL) research project in the UK.[i] The ongoing research project is taking place during the development of four pilot projects in England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland and brings together community groups, academic researchers, industry partners and local authorities, with the aim of improving the process of community consultation (CC) in planning. In Reading, it was a great opportunity to see how the issues mentioned above were being tackled “on the ground” so to speak, where local community groups were given a real space to meet and discuss important local issues.   During my experience of the Urban Room, I found the process of mapping social value combined with face-to-face engagement particularly important tools placed in the hands of citizens as much as experts in understanding and enhancing social value when undertaking processes of community consultation. The co-design of maps emphasises how people can have their say in creating a resource of local knowledge aimed at revealing the hidden attributes that benefit communities. As the map began to be populated with responses, I noticed how people’s feelings, now spatially strewn across different parts of the city, became a process of learning about and connecting with each other. Concurrently, the opportunity for people to casually meet in physical space has proven that face-to-face encounter still is incredibly necessary.   Both processes have indicated how important it can be to have control and power to take decisions collectively, rather than individually, as other researchers have noted.[ii] In focus group discussions, it has been made clear by community representatives that in real community consultation processes the community needs to there from the beginning as much as possible, pointing to the need for transparency, and for taking the “peoples’ pace”, highlighting the need for patience. These observations come in a time of rapid technological innovation and adoption of digital mediums both in data collection, consultation, design and visualisation, related to planning decisions that influence the development of quality of life in housing and neighbourhoods.   Recently, public-private partnerships in the development of housing and neighbourhoods seem to be growing but the methods of participation in planning that focus on the needs and aspirations of communities are just beginning to be updated. The processes of collaborative decision-making by involving communities directly and from the early stages have become increasingly important in the built environment disciplines. Yet, physical, technocratic design concerns seem to be dominant and perhaps easier to evaluate than the accumulated complexity of interactions that make social value at the neighbourhood scale. The integration of a set of social participation- with design-oriented guidelines is necessary.   A growing interest is observed in Urban Living labs (ULLs) as a physical setting and a methodology, with more emphasis placed on real-life settings of experimentation and collaboration between different stakeholders. Collaborative knowledge production and citizen-driven innovation in urban sustainability transitions is often prioritised. ULLs focused on innovation in urban planning processes, are being defined by the term City Labs.[iii] The influential research currently underway on community engagement in Urban Rooms is an exciting and promising trajectory for innovation in participatory planning that shares aspects of the ULLs/City Labs by involving communities, built environment professionals and local councils in collaborative and interactive arrangements. Perhaps the ULLs/City Labs approach, as an extension of the Urban Room concept, presents the opportunity of placing more emphasis on experimentation, involving new tools and methods that enhance participation and lead to co-creation of social value at the neighbourhood level.           [i] [ii] [iii] Scholl, C., & Kemp, R. (2016). City labs as vehicles for innovation in urban planning processes. Urban Planning, 1(4), 89-102.


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Lisbon IRL, Transdisciplinarity is Now Real

Posted on 26-09-2021

  It was the first time for all of us. We finally met in real life (IRL) at the Lisbon Workshop. In the three days of lecture sessions, discussion groups and case study trips a lot was accomplished. Apart from the valuable new insight on a wide spectrum of housing issues and perspectives, the transdisciplinary aspects of the Re-Dwell programme were beginning to come alive IRL! Meeting my fellow Early Stage Researchers, every discussion and every interaction was infused with the communication nuances and beautiful little moments we know to be true (and take for granted) only when being in the same space with another person. This personally felt very important and extremely different from the digitally-enabled interactions we were up to now used to as a group.   I am convinced that people and physical space assign meaning to each other. They form a co-constitutive state of socio-spatial complexity that the digital world simply cannot recreate accurately, and transdisciplinary research may be in fact dependent upon such IRL-ness.   Social media slang aside, real life is perhaps inherently based on transdisciplinary interaction. Transdisciplinarity became expressed in the when and how of voicing opinions, in the excitement in our voices and in the way we critically and selectively chose what to say when in a big group or one to one. This is maybe the point of research on housing matters that are most definitely not going to be addressed by researchers in academic vacuums. When I saw us as a group in the lecture room, turning towards each other in a spontaneous moment of heated debate, we were directly engaging with each other, stretching and testing conceptual and philosophical boundaries.   Similarly, walking, seeing, listening and then talking about our environment was an emotional learning process during the social housing visit of the Marvila district that was directly engaging with certain boundaries. I remember feeling a strong sense of awareness of being an outsider, a researcher with a purpose but somewhat distant from the daily routines of peoples' lives that we were casually observing. The boundaries that we were crossing were now not so much disciplinary, but spatial, physical and perhaps more personal. What does housing mean for the people living in it, how is it performed and by whom is it shaped? We were now in the results of previous accomplishments and failures, not above them. We are beginning to splash “in the murky waters and messiness of local struggles and conflicts” (Kaika, 2018) and perhaps this is where transdisciplinarity is necessarily practiced.       Kaika, M. (2018). Between the frog and the eagle: claiming a ‘Scholarship of Presence’for the Anthropocene. European Planning Studies, 26(9), 1714-1727.



Case studies

Contributions to the case study library


Contributions to the vocabulary


Social sustainability

Area: Community participation

In a broader sense, co-creation means the joint effort of bringing something new to fruition through acts of collective creativity (Sanders & Stappers, 2008) which can be manifested in both tangible (making something together) or intangible (learning something together) outcomes (Puerari et al., 2018). Recently, the concepts of co-creation or co- production have been applied to describe the processes of participation in urban planning and design. Both terms place particular emphasis on the partnerships formed between citizens and the public sector, in which a high level of citizen involvement is pivotal. Participation has been defined through its different levels of citizen involvement, ranging from non-participation to greater degrees of citizen control (Arnstein, 1969) indicating the different levels of influence a participant can have on a participatory process. From the perspective of urban planning, citizen participation is beginning to be described as co-creation when citizens’ roles become more prominent, presenting aspects of self-organisation, increased commitment and a sense of ownership of the process (Puerari et al., 2018). Recent research is exploring new methods of urban planning in which citizens, the municipality and private organisations co-create new planning rules (Bisschops & Beunen, 2019). However, co-creation along with co-production and participation, often used interchangeably, have become popular catchphrases and are considered as processes which are of virtue in themselves. Furthermore, while there is substantial research on these processes, the research conducted on the outcomes of enhanced participation remains rather limited (Voorberg et al., 2015). This highlights the ambiguity in terms of interpretation; is co-creation a methodology, a set of tools to enhance and drive a process, or a goal in itself? (Puerari et al., 2018). There have often been cases where participation, co-creation and co-production have been used decoratively, as a form of justification and validation of decisions already made (Armeni, 2016). In the provision of public spaces, co-creation/co-production may specifically involve housing (Brandsen & Helderman, 2012; Chatterton, 2016) and placemaking: “placemaking in public space implies engaging in the practice of urban planning and design beyond an expert culture. Such collaboration can be described as co-creation.” (Eggertsen Teder, 2019, p.290). As in participation, co-creation requires the sharing of decision-making powers, the creation of  joint knowledge and the assignation of abilities between communities, while urban professionals and local authorities should draw attention to the active involvement of community members. Furthermore, co-creation does not take place in a vacuum, but always occurs within socio- spatial contexts. This points to the objective of co-creation as a tool to influence locally relevant policy through innovation that is “place-based”. To conclude, co-creation can be perceived as a process that is both transdisciplinary in its application, and as a tool for achieving transdisciplinarity on a broader scale through a systematic integration in existing standard practices in urban planning, housing design and architecture. Despite the persisting ambiguity in its definition, co-creation processes can provide more inclusive platforms for revisiting and informing formal and informal knowledge on sustainable and affordable housing.

Created on 16-02-2022

Author: A.Panagidis (ESR8), E.Roussou (ESR9)


Area: Community participation

From the three pillars of sustainable development, economic, environmental and social, the latter  involving social equity and the sustainability of communities, has  been especially neglected. Ongoing problems caused by conflicting economic, environmental and social goals with regard to the processes of urbanisation continue. underpinning economic growth that contradict principles of environmental and social justice (Boström, 2012; Cuthill, 2010; Winston, 2009). Research on sustainable development highlights the need for further investigation of social sustainability (Murphy, 2012; Vallance et al., 2011). Social sustainability has been interpreted as an umbrella term encompassing many other related concepts; “social equity and justice, social capital, social cohesion, social exclusion, environmental justice, quality of life, and urban liveability” (Shirazi & Keivani, 2019, p. 4). A vast number of studies have been dedicated to defining social sustainability by developing theoretical frameworks and indicators particularly relevant to urban development and housing discourse (Cuthill, 2010; Dempsey et al., 2011; Murphy, 2012; Woodcraft, 2012). However, with a lack of consensus on the way of utilising these frameworks in a practical way, especially when applied to planning, social sustainability has remained difficult to evaluate or measure. Consequently, planning experts, housing providers and inhabitants alike understand social sustainability as a normative concept, according to established social norms, and less as an opportunity to critically examine existing institutions. Vallance et al (2011) provide three categories to analyse social sustainability, development, bridge and maintenance sustainability: (a) social development improves conditions of poverty and inequity, from the provision of basic needs to the redistribution of power to influence existing development paradigms; (b) the conditions necessary to bridge social with ecological sustainability, overcoming currently disconnected social and ecological concerns; and (c) the social practices, cultural preferences as well as the environments which are maintained over time. Maintenance social sustainability particularly deals with how people interpret what is to be maintained and includes “new housing developments, the layout of streets, open spaces, residential densities, the location of services, an awareness of habitual movements in place, and how they connect with housing cultures, preferences, practices and values, particularly those for low-density, suburban lifestyles” (Vallance et al., 2011, p. 345). Therefore, the notion of maintenance is especially important in defining social sustainability by directly investigating the established institutions, or “sets of norms” that constitute the social practices and rules, that in turn, affect responsibilities for planning urban spaces. A conceptual framework that appears frequently in social sustainability literature is that of Dempsey et al. (2011)⁠ following Bramley et al. (2009), defining social sustainability according to the variables of social equity and sustainability of community and their relationship to urban form, significantly at the local scale of the neighbourhood. In terms of the built environment, social equity (used interchangeably with social justice) is understood as the accessibility and equal opportunities to frequently used services, facilities, decent and affordable housing, and good public transport. In this description of local, as opposed to regional services, proximity and accessibility are important. Equitable access to such local services effectively connects housing to key aspects of everyday life and to the wider urban infrastructures that support it. Sustainability of community is associated with the abilities of society to develop networks of collective organisation and action and is dependent on social interaction. The associated term social capital has also been used extensively to describe social norms and networks that can be witnessed particularly at the community level to facilitate collective action (Woolcock, 2001, p. 70). They might include a diversity of issues such as resident interaction, reciprocity, cooperation and trust expressed by common exchanges between residents, civic engagement, lower crime rates and other positive neighbourhood qualities that are dependent on sharing a commitment to place (Foster, 2006; Putnam, 1995; Temkin & Rohe, 1998). In fact, “the heightened sense of ownership and belonging to a locale” is considered to encourage the development of social relations (Hamiduddin & Adelfio, 2019, p. 188). However, the gap between theoretical discussions about social sustainability and their practical application has continued. For example, the emphasis of social sustainability as a target outcome rather than as a process has been prioritised in technocratic approaches to planning new housing developments and to measuring their success by factors which are tangible and easier to count and audit. Private housing developers that deal with urban regeneration make bold claims to social sustainability yet profound questions are raised regarding the effects of gentrification (Dixon, 2019). Accordingly, the attempted methods of public participation as planning tools for integrating the ‘social’ have been found to be less effective - their potential being undercut due to the reality that decision-making power has remained at the top (Eizenberg & Jabareen, 2017). Therefore, social sustainability is not a fixed concept, it is contingent on the interdependence of the procedural aspects (how to achieve social sustainability) and substantive aspects (what are the outcomes of social sustainability goals) (Boström, 2012). From this point of view, social sustainability reveals its process-oriented nature and the need to establish processes of practicing social sustainability that begin with the participation of citizens in decision-making processes in producing equitable (i.e. socially sustainable) development. As a dimension of sustainable development that is harder to quantify than the economic or environmental aspects, the operationalisation of social sustainability goals into spatial, actionable principles has remained a burgeoning area of research. In such research, methods for enhancing citizen participation are a particularly important concern in order to engage and empower people with “non-expert” knowledge to collaborate with academic researchers.

Created on 03-06-2022

Author: A.Panagidis (ESR8)