As the preparations for the New Urban Agenda by UN Habitat III signals, the agenda of urban planners in the 21st century will become tighter. Cities and city regions will continue growing in size and function. Challenges derive directly from ‘external’ processes like globalization, climate change and migration. The city and city region is also inscribed as central element into the growth model of the modern society. These challenges translate into the domain of planning, with newly emerging forms of collective plan-making and new governance arrangements taking shape. In a positive sense, urban development is negotiated and created in urban future laboratories. How can planners deal with these changing circumstances, and add value to both the bottom-up emerging local initiatives and revise the top-down approaches towards managing spatial development. How can they safeguard common values of a shared city or regional identity, a functioning ‘spatial fabric,’ or an equitable access to public services?