My motivation to become a spatial planner is to bridge the gap between spatial science and spatial projects. During my studies, I saw many examples of how a lack of scientific knowledge or knowledge of the best practices led to wrong decisions of policy makers. They are not to blame, there is just a need of more persons capable to act interdisciplinary. Spatial projects affect all of us. It is my conviction that there always be a need for spatial theory to give input to the practice.
Ports are historically important socio-economic and cultural drivers for the host city and region. Since the 1950s port areas transformed fundamentally. Following the extensive globalization ports lost the connections with their host cities on different levels: spatial, economical, socio-cultural and institutional. Many researchers emphasize that this ongoing separation has led to an important loss of innovative capacity. Therefore, the objective is to develop a methodology to identify innovative capacity and to apply this to the Ghent port city as a pilot case study, in order to understand how to maintain and stimulate this innovative capacity. This technique will be translated to other, European an non-European, port cities. First, it will be demonstrated that the common structuralist approach is insufficient to understand the variety of the port city. It will be argued that a post-structuralist perspective is needed to fully understand the specific innovative quality of a port city. To achieve this, the relevant actors who are creating this quality are identified. These actors and their cognitive and spatial proximity will be analysed using an actor-network approach. This way, a more context sensitive definition of the port city will be given. Finally, the main stake- and shareholders will be brought together in 'living labs'. Using this methodology, this project aims to translate innovative scientific insights to the governance of port cities.