Lasse Gerrits

Trust local knowledge but do not reinvent the wheel

Lasse Gerrits, UHD Institute for Housing and Urban Development Studies

CLOSER CITIES aims to create a bridge between urban science and urban practice. By collecting cases on urban practice, analysing them on the shoulders of urban science and sharing research outcomes, urban knowledge becomes shareable. In the ‘5 questions’ series, we ask scientists to briefly reflect on their research and the shareability of their insights and projects.

1. What is the main focus of your research (topic, theme, region)?

Urban change and governance, infrastructure and mobility. I'm not specialized in a particular region but have been working in Europe and in Asia.

2. Can you give a brief description of your research?

I research development trajectories of cities and map under what conditions cities develop into a particular direction. To this end, I develop comparative research methods.

3. How much influence does ‘local context’ have in your field of work? Can results or solutions from your research be shared with other regions easily?

Local context matters tremendously. There is no evidence that urban research holds across all cases, no matter the time and region. However, this doesn't mean that all cases are strictly unique. Indeed, there are recurring patterns across cases. The big puzzle is to figure out the various mixes of recurring and unique aspects that lead to certain outcomes.

4. What are the main lessons learned that can be used by urban initiatives?

To trust local knowledge but not to reinvent the wheel.

5. How do you think cities can implement these lessons?

By listeningen more carefully to local voices and to be less inclined to 'copy best practices' from other places.