Welcome to "Future of the City Centre"

international conversations and research

The city centre plays a fundamental and dynamic  role in making the city a vibrant and liveable place but globally it is under immense and sustained pressures. 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 is challenging its future character. 

This AHRC funded project examines these pressures on the city centre across different cities of the world. It seeks to learn from the varying responses and experiences of city centres around the world, to explore the future of city centres, asking: who is it for? What is it for? Where does the future lie? How can its future be guided?”

Working with civic, academic and other partners, the project will lead to the formation of a new international network to help advance answers to these and emerging research questions.

About the "Future of the City Centre" research project

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" is a 2 year research project funded by the UK Arts & Humanities Research Council bringing together academics, civic and commercial leaders, and citizens into conversation about the future shape and role of the city centre.
Symposia are being 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.

We hope this will help set the future research agenda exploring the role of the city centre in the middle of the 21st century.


How to get involved

contribute to shaping the future of city centres

Join us at a symposium

We held our fourth symposium on March 5 and 6 2020 in Joao Pessoa, Brazil. Following on from those held in Newcastle (UK), Newcastle (Australia) and Pretoria (South Africa), the sessions included key presenters from Local Government, State Government, Community groups, and other stakeholders, as well as round-table discussion. Further details can be found below.

Submit your thoughts

Help shape the debates

A key part of the research is to capture ideas and thoughts on the future of the city centre from those already engaged in imaginative and innovative projects. Send us a brief outline and we will add this to the website.

Comment on research output

Continue the discussions

Give us your thoughts on the project and comment on the thought pieces and papers which we are producing from the symposia. 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 cen.

Add links to your 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.


Looking to the future

With the closing of uur fourth symposium in Joao Pessoa, Brazil the research project funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council in the UK is coming to an end. However as has been evident from the lively and thoughtful discussions held in the four symopisia in four cities and with four muncipalities, there is much more to be considered about the future of the city centre globally. The project team are currently looking ahead and we will post further details on the next stage of the research here shortly.

In the meantime, we'd love to have your input and ideas about how to help develop an international netwokr of people interested in the future of the city centre.



Project symposia 

Future of the City Centre, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK

Future of City Centre - UK

Our first symposium was held in Newcastle upon Tyne in September 2018. Details of the programme can be found here:

The meeting explored how this compact city centre is being managed to retain employment, retail functions and services desired by residents, whilst welcoming more 'temporary' visitors as students and tourists.

Future of the City Centre, Newcastle NSW, Australia

This event was held on 5 and 6 March 2019 in Newcastle, Australia organised by the University of Newcastle. Details of the programme can be found here:


Through field visits and workshop discussion, the symposium discussed with key stakeholders how the city is using its regulatory functions and civic investments to re-define the city centre, spatially and economically

Future of the City Centre, Pretoria, South Africa

The third symposium was hosted by the University of South of Africa in September 2019. It explored the ways in which Pretoria is repositioning itself as a sustainable 'global capital city' with a vibrant city centre.

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Future of the City Centre, Joao Pessoa, Brazil

The fourth and final symposium will be held in the easternmost city in the Americas, in the Paraiba region of Brazil. Designated a UNESCO 'creative city', it seeks to balance heritage and modernity in the city centre. The meeting was held in March 2020, hosted by the University of Paraiba. 


August 16 2018

February 2020

This article examines the patterns of retail diffusion that followed and the resultant adoption of the shopping centre form.

January 2020



Project 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

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, University of Northumbria, 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

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

Professor Bob Giddings

His interest in the integration of design and management led to a Postgraduate Diploma in Management and membership of the Chartered Institute of Building. A Master of Arts in Urban Studies was followed by a Doctorate in Architecture and Urban Design from the Institute of Advanced Architectural Studies at the University of York. Before university, Bob was employed as a Building Technologist in London but has since worked with a number of award-winning architectural practices. He enjoyed five years as a part-time tutor at Newcastle School of Architecture before joining the School of the Built Environment.

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 our priority areas relating to sustainable development inclusive growth – resilient cities, sustainable communities, mobility & the built environment, and urban wellbeing associated with smart cities.  He is currently engaged with partners in India, Uganda, the Philippines, Mexico and Australia, and has represented the UK as part of FCO delegations to Brazil, Latin America and China.


Dr Marcus Jefferies

University of Newcastle, Callaghan, NSW


Professor PD Rwelamila

University of South Africa, Pretoria

Professor Geovany Silva

Federal University of Paraiba, Brazil

Professor Carlos Nome

Federal University of Paraiba, Brazil

"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

Contact Us

email:    rjrogerson10@gmail.com

phone:  +44(0)141 444 8628

+44 (0)141 444 8628

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