Toolbox for Metropolitan development

The MetroLab Toolbox is a collection of diverse tools for metropolitan planning and design.

All the instruments presented here were tested in the frame of several previous and current projects by the MetroLab team and qualified according to the specific spatial context. The toolbox is an integral part of our research- and application-oriented approach and is continuously expanded. For each individual case it is adapted to the specific needs of city regions, districts and municipalities.

Process Design Phases

The MetroLab Toolbox is built on a generalized planning process derived from experience gained in various planning projects in metropolitan areas. Although the planning process of a metropolitan area needs to be adapted to the respective spatial contexts and planning culture, there are three main phases proposed based on the co-creative approach of MetroLab.


Creative Vision Building

Creative vision building aims to understand and recontextualise metropolitan phenomena. It creates the basis to develop cross-border strategies and a new image and identity for the metropolitan area. The outcome of this first phase is the visionary representation of the functional urban area through various forms and media such as art installations, printed media, exhibitions etc. To enable a new reading of the space a set of research, analysis and presentation tools supporting the collection, interpretation and visualisation of data can be applied.

Outcome: visual manifestation of the creative vision (maps, movies, publication, etc.).


Metropolitan Dialogue

Taking the creative vision as a starting point, the aim of the metropolitan dialogue phase is to collectively discuss and (re-)process the comprehensive metropolitan strategy. By initiating a dialogue between decision-makers, planning authorities, city administration, urban researchers and designers as well as external (international) experts, a creative knowledge exchange is established. In the long term, this platform can continue to exist as a wider cross-sectoral and interdisciplinary network.

Outcome: metropolitan strategy including the identification of emerging topics & creation of a knowledge platform.


Local Action

Translating metropolitan strategies into Local Action is the goal of the third phase. In addition to the stakeholder involvement during the Metropolitan Dialogue (second phase), it is aiming to strongly engage the local community to co-creatively develop local action plans. This should not only stimulate the implementation of first temporary interventions, but also give long-term perspectives. This results in identifying with the overall metropolitan vision and at the same time contributes to local empowerment and capacity building.

Outcome: local action plan & implementation of (temporary) interventions.

Types of Tools

The multifunctional MetroLab Toolbox for integrated metropolitan development consists of research and analysis tools, presentation tools as well as interactive and dialogue-oriented tools. Accordingly, the different types of tools are used for various purposes: researching and analysing, presenting as well as stimulating dialogue and co-creating Metropolitan Visions, Strategies and Actions.

Research & Analysis Tools

These types of tools aim at analysing the spatial structure, as well as the economic, demographic and ecological development of the metropolitan area. Mainly used in phase 1, as a basis to prepare the creative vision, they can also be useful at a later point in the process. Especially perceptual methods and tools, such as observing, walking, and questioning tools are important to get a comprehensive picture of the metropolis.

Presentation Tools

Aiming at presenting (interim) results to the public, these types of tools can be used in all phases, mainly as a transition to the next phase. The presentation tools have a visual and artistic character as their purpose is to spread a certain image of the metropolitan area that attracts attention. Popular presentation tools are, among others, maps, movies, books, as well as exhibitions.

Stimulating Dialogue Tools

These kinds of tools are mainly used during phases 2 and 3 and have the purpose to initiate discussion. They actively involve different stakeholder groups in the process. Some of these tools include more conventional workshop methods that are well known, but still can be very effective. Mostly, they are combined with presentation tools that serve as a basis for discussion.

Co-Creation Tools

These types of tools are similar to dialogue tools, however, they are more interactive and have a stronger implementation character. They are mainly applied in the Local Action phase, as they rather can be used for a specific case study on the local level. Aiming at involving the local community and other stakeholder groups, they have a participatory character.

Tools Collection

  • All
  • Co-Creation Tools
  • Presentation Tools
  • Research & Analysis Tools
  • Stimulating Dialogue Tools

Tools in Action

Only in combination with other tools, and embedded in an integrated development process, the individual tools can unfold their full effect. As an inspiration, it is demonstrated how tools can be applied in action, on the basis of four exemplary MetroLab projects. You can find more information about the projects in our portfolio.

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