Welcome to the Future of Places Research Network

The Future of Places is a collaborative platform for research, implementation, networking and advocacy, centered on key issues of public space as a fundamental component of sustainable urban development. The four-year forum has brought together over 1,500 researchers, practitioners, officials and activists, representing more than 700 organizations, 275 cities and 100 countries from all around the world.

The Future of Places Research Network represents the next evolution of the project, with a global collaboration between researchers and implementers of the “New Urban Agenda,” and most importantly, its focus on public space. We have our main hub at the Centre for the Future of Places, KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, and a growing research network of collaborators around the world.


The Future of Places forum:

77 academic papers, 96 sessions, and 71 plenary speakers, focusing on sustainable urban development, placemaking, and the urban challenges ahead.  The series contributed to the New Urban Agenda, as well as the principles of the Charter of Public Space and the UN-Habitat Global Public Space Toolkit. The 2015 conference was also the first Urban Thinkers Campus, and key members served as consultants to the Secretary-General for Habitat III.  Now the focus is on implementation, and the need to share practical knowledge and “research into action.”

The challenge of implementation…

In December 2016, the New Urban Agenda was adopted by acclamation by all 193 member nations of the UN General Assembly.  This watershed document contains important language about urban access, opportunity and equity, about compact and resource-efficient urban form, about social capital and capacity development, about polycentric governance, participation and subsidiarity, and (as a cross-cutting subject) about the importance of public space.

The New Urban Agenda contains nine paragraphs that deal with the key role of public spaces as “drivers of social and economic development,” “enhancing safety and security, favoring social and inter-generational interaction and the appreciation of diversity” as well as “promoting walkability and cycling towards improving health and well- being.”

The Future of Places Research Network asks key questions about implementing the New Urban Agenda, and disseminates solutions as they are identified. Topics include:

  • What are the benefits of public space systems, including benefits for different sectors of society, notably disadvantaged populations?
  • What are the consequences of their loss, through privatization, or through inadequate planning of both quantity and quality?
  • What are the strategies and mechanisms by which public space systems can be improved?
  • Who are the actors that can bring about positive change, from public, private and civil sectors?
  • What are the next steps in implementing this part of the New Urban Agenda?