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Welcome to "Future of the City Centre Network"

international conversations and research

The Future of the City Centre Network (FCCN) brings together city leaders, practitioners and academics who share an interest in ensuring that the urban core of cities around the world remains relevant, vibrant and resilient.  

Despite economic, social, environmental and political pressures, the city centre continues to play a fundamental and dynamic role in making the urban space a vibrant and liveable place. 

Positively, it is the site of exchange not only of goods and services but also information and ideas, a place where work interacts with leisure and play, and where people’s lives intersect. It is literally the beating heart of the city. But changing patterns of commerce, retailing and residential living, and the need to contribute to responses to climate change are challenging its future character, putting the downtown under immense and sustained pressures.


Bringing those who share our interest in the future of this key urban space, the FCCN focusses on:

  • sharing examples of positive change

  • bringing people together to help envision new futures

  • conducting research and evaluation to support future policy


We hope you will join us in debating these futures. Contact us if you'd like to be part of the Network.

On this website you can learn about the FCCN and our mission and aims. You can read about exciting, innovative and imaginative projects and activities taking place in city centres across the world. You can also read more about the four case study cities in the AHRC research, including the workshops and symposia held in each of them which brought together civic leaders, practitioners and academics. And you will find research papers, thought pieces and other output from the FCCN to help stimulate debate about the future of city centres.  

This international initiative started with an AHRC funded project examining these pressures on city centres across different cities of the world - from the UK, Australia, South Africa and Brazil - but is now reaching out to cities globally, asking: Who is it for? What is it for? Where does the future lie? How can its future be guided?


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Keeping the city centre relevant

Across the world the future shape and role of the city centre is changing. New patterns of shopping and leisure, changing working practices, and fluctuating residential desires are altering the value placed on office and commercial space, on retailing and on housing in the city centre. Yet city centres continue to be sites of innovation, of investment and dynamism, the pumping heart of wider urban regions. 

The "Future of the City Centre" started as a 2 year research project in 2018 funded by the UK Arts & Humanities Research Council. It brought together academics, civic and commercial leaders, and citizens into conversation about the future shape and role of the city centre. Symposia were held in four cities across four continents to share experiences on how the challenges and opportunities faced by city centres are being addressed in practice and importantly to outline a vision of the future of the city centre. This research helped set the future research agenda exploring the role of the city centre in the middle of the 21st century.


Since then, our research has expanded and we are now engaged with more cities and citizens globally to capture innovative ways in which the city centre is being made more sustainable and resilient, and collaborate with city leaders to imagine and deliver vibrant downtowns,

We welcome anyone who shares our interest and passion to help keep the city centre relevant - academics, practitioners, community organisations, and citizens - to join with us as part of the ongoing Future of City Centres Network (FCCN).

Home: About
Home: Get involved

How to get involved

contribute to shaping the future of city centres

Join the Future City Centre Network

This exciting new initiative is an opportunity to engage commercial, civic leaders, practitioners and academic in advancing thinking and planning city centres of the future. More details will be published here shortly, but if you would like to learn more about the FCCN or wish to be a partner, contact us by email (

Submit your thoughts

Help shape the debates

We are keen to publish thought pieces and short articles on the future of the city centre and welcome submissions. If you would like to contribute, get in touch with Robert Rogerson at 

Comment on our reports and output

Continue the discussions

Give us your thoughts on the project and comment on the thought pieces, papers and other output from the research.  We would welcome your comments and thoughts on the future of the city centre and need you to help us continue the conversation on what is working and not working in shaping the future of city centre.

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Add links to your city and research

Help us build an evidence base

Let us know what other research into the future of city centre is taking place. Send us links to your research and we can help bring that into the discussions. Just send an email using the contact button below. We'd love to help promote your research.

Looking to the Future

Looking to the future

The current global pandemic has created unprecedented conditions for everyone, challenging established ways of working, living and socialising. It has also created incredibly rapid change in cities – from deserted streets as lockdowns are enforced to new ways of socialising and working remotely as social distancing is implemented. And it has given renewed attention to the role of key sectors, especially around health care, and to the fragility of the economic basis of sectors frequently labelled as low skilled.

Even if the impact is only temporary, our current responses to the pandemic are asking fundamental questions of the future of the city centre. Our notions of the future will be re-shaped by the current experience.

Our visions are likely to be have been altered.

In response to this and informed by innovative research, we believe there is a need for more global cooperation, more shared understanding of how to make city centres more sustainable and resilient, and how to ensure that they remain the beating heart of the city as  whole. 

We are thus inviting anyone sharing our desire to help create future city centres to join us as part of an international network of civic leaders, practitioners, commercial partners, academics and citizens. The intention is not to create a blueprint for every city, but to generate a manifesto to ensure city centres as they continue to change and adapt are effective in improving the quality of life and wellbeing of citizens.



City Centre case studies

At the heart of this research programme lie four case study cities which formed the basis of the original AHRC project. In each city the host team member set up a 2 day symposium bringing together key city leaders and planners, place making practitioners, academics and community representatives in conversation.

The following section provide a copy of the presentations at the workshops and a summary of the debates and discussions which ensued. You will also find the plans and visions of the city centre laid out by the local municipality which form the backdrop of most of the continuing conversations.


In engaging critically with these visions, and helping to understand the opportunities and challenges faced by the city centre in future, we have brought together some of the most relevant academic and practitioner research for each city.


The conversations continue, and as part of the Future of the City Centre Network, the team continue to engage with partners in each of the case study cities. 

We are keen to extend the range of city centre case studies, and thus welcome opportunities to link up with civic leaders, academics, practitioners and citizens to help explore the future of other urban cores. If you would like to add another case study, get in touch with us. 


Newcastle upon Tyne, UK

This compact city centre with its  strong historical and regional links offers a vision of a future which seeks to retain employment, retail functions and services desired by residents, whilst welcoming more 'temporary' visitors as students and tourists.


Details of the symposium programme can be found here:

Further information about the plans for the city centre, the symposium papers and related articles on Newcastle Upon Tyne can be found using the following links:


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Newcastle NSW, Australia

Setting out a vision and action plan to create a more sustainable and denser city centre, Newcastle offers insights how a municipality can use its regulatory functions and civic investments to re-define the city centre, spatially and economically.


Details of the programme can be found here:


Further information about the plans for the city centre, the symposium papers and related articles on Newcastle, NSW can be found using the following links:


Tshwane/Pretoria, South Africa

In seeking to reposition itself as a sustainable 'global capital city' with a vibrant city centre, the Tshwane/Pretoria case study raises intriguing issues about how to ensure that a CBD can be retained as an economic heart whilst being inclusive.

Further information about the plans for the city centre, the symposium papers and related articles on Tshwane/Pretoria can be found using the following links:

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Future of the City Centre, Joao Pessoa, Brazil

The fourth and final symposium was held in the easternmost city in the Americas, in the Paraiba region of Brazil in March 2020. Hosted by the University of Paraiba it explored how the location and identity of the city's centre was changing, and how the historic centre was struggling to be regenerated.. 

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Home: News

News and Debates

Some of the contemporary issues and

future opportunities connected with the city centre

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Reimagining Oxford Circus, London (C) Crown Estates

August 16 2018

This article sets out the aims of the original AHRC project which led to the research on this website.

Read more at 

Chronicle Live



Read Peter Madden's report on an event on ‘Rethinking the City Centre’ held at Cardiff University to consider how we might make city centres vibrant, sustainable, and inclusive.

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Belfast city centre

Recognising the challenges facing the city centre including the emerging retail, tourism and hospitality landscape and the need to reimagine and diversify to future-proof the city centre, the Council's programme aims to reimagine the city centre by addressing the importance of vitality, the diversification of land, promoting mixed uses, open and green spaces and community infrastructure.

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(C) Crown Estate

Project output

Home: Output

This month's theme:

Improving air quality in the city centre

Thought pieces
A series of short papers discussing issues raised by this research project
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City Street
House Construction
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Academic papers from the project

Compacting the city centre: densification in two Newcastles -

Giddings & Rogerson (2021) in Buildings & Cities

The compact city and the associated process of densification have attained almost hegemonic status as a sustainable urban form. Seeking to counteract the negative impacts of sprawl, urban densification has usually focused on areas beyond the city centre. However, a renewed attraction of the urban core is altering patterns at a time when other trends, including the decline of retailing and commercial activity, are also changing demands for space in the city centre. This paper investigates different approaches to the use of urban densification as part of strategies for the regeneration of the city centre.


Read the full paper here

The future of the city centre: urbanisation, transformation and resilience - a tale of two Newcastle cities

Rogerson & Giddings (2020) - Urban Studies

Recent debates over the content and theoretical orientation of urban studies act as a strong reminder that the nature and existence of the city as a form of spatial urban agglomeration is changing. They have acted positively as a heuristic to inspire critical analysis of urbanisation and helped to illuminate the considerable empirical variation over time and space in urban agglomeration forms. However, in shifting the focus onto the planetary reach of urbanisation, such debates risk deflecting attention away from the city core at a time when it too is being subjected to transformation. The city centre has been taken for granted ....

Read the paper here

The research team: who we are

This initiative is being led by international academic researchers from the UK, Australia, South Africa and Brazil.


UK project coordinators

Professor Bob Giddings, School of the Built Environment, Northumbria University, Newcastle

Dr Robert Rogerson, Director, Institute for Future Cities, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow

International partners

Dr Marcus Jefferies, School of Architecture & Built Environment University of Newcastle, Callaghan, NSW

Professor PD Rwelamila, Graduate School of Business Leadership, University of South Africa, Pretoria

Professor Geovany Silva, Architecture & Urbanism, Federal University of Paraiba, Brazil

Dr Carlos Nome, Department of Architecture, Federal University of Paraiba, Brazil

Future of City Centre Network Organisational Partners

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Professor Bob Giddings

As Professor of Architecture and Urban Design, Bob  has pioneered the development of three innovative degree courses - the Building Management Programme (now Construction Management) Architectural Design and Management (now Architecture) and Interior Design (now Interior Architecture) and was one of the founders of Northumbria University's Sustainable Cities Research Institute. He is Visiting Professor at Belgrade University Faculty of Architecture, and at the American University School of Architecture in Skopje.

Dr Robert Rogerson

As academic Director of the Institute for Future Cities at the University of Strathclyde, Robert has responsibility for the development of collaborative and multidisciplinary projects spanning research areas relating to sustainable development and inclusive growth and has led projects funded by the AHRC, ESRC, and NERC as well as Newton Funds and British Council.  He is currently engaged with partners in India, Uganda, the Philippines, and Mexico. He has represented UK academic researchers as part of FCO delegations to Brazil, Latin America and China.

Home: Meet the Team

Dr Marcus Jefferies

Senior Lecturer, School of Architecture and Built Environment, University of Newcastle, Callaghan, NSW


Professor PD Rwelamila

Professor of Project Management, Graduate School of Business Leadership,

University of South Africa, Pretoria

Professor Geovany Silva

Professor in Architecture and Urbanism. Federal University of Paraiba, Brazil

Dr Carlos Nome

Adjunct Professor of Architecture, Federal University of Paraiba, Brazil

It is with immense sadness that we record the untimely death of Prof Geovany Silva due to Covid-19. He was a great friend and a much admired and respected colleague, in his host University, UFPB and as a key part of this project. A statement from the Rectory of UFPB can be read here

Home: Ethos

"A city is more than a place in space, it is a drama in time"

                                                     Patrick Geddes

“Cities have the capability of providing something for everybody, only because, and only when, they are created by everybody.”

                                                    Jane Jacobs

"The city in short shows the good and evil of human nature in excess"

                                                    Robert E Park

Urban Skyline
Home: Contact

Contact Us


phone:  +44(0)141 444 8628 *currently unavailable as working from home

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