We are delighted to report that Sepideh Hajisoltani, one of the contributors to the network, has successful completed her doctorate. Congratulations Dr Sepi!
Her thesis is entitled "The Future of English City Centres: The Case for Newcastle upon Tyne" and provides an innovative framework for the future of the city's centre. She was based in Architecture and the Built Environment at University of Northumbria, UK.
21st century cities operate in new patterns that are radically different from urban models of the 20th century. In the broad context of urban studies, there is a growing focus on future cities and the assertion of what new technologies can offer. At the cusp of this change, there is an increasing interest in the study of city centres where these transitions are being played out. The complex interconnections of current social, environmental, political, and economic transitions could be at the core of the future of UK city centres. The perceived ability of city centre to traverse disciplinary edges makes it an important subject for many established disciplines and creates the possibility for cross-disciplinary and inter-disciplinary research. This thesis aims to critically review the environmental, social, economic, and political perspectives of the city centre in Newcastle upon Tyne in the UK in order to provide insights on its future transitions. An improved understanding of these perspectives is critical for developing scenarios for the future of the city centre.
The study makes a timely contribution to the existing literature by presenting a comprehensive commentary and Framework for the Future that can be used by a wide range of participants who might shape the future of the city centre. These two documents go beyond the physical structure and recognise the key dimensions of environmental, social, economic and political perspectives in the future visioning and planning of the city centre. The framework highlights the significance of the relationship between buildings and spaces and points to a faster turnover of uses in the future while identifying action points for the creation of inclusive spaces. The framework also recognises the importance of considering city centre users as social groups as well as economic contributors in order to develop a heterogeneous population. The research shows that the retention of economic value within the boundary of the city centre is of great importance. This study identifies the move from government to governance as a critical political issue in any future scenario for English city centres.