Addressing challenges for cities of the future


Experts will be laying out their visions of the cities of the future at a conference at the University of Leeds today.

Authorities on city planning, including Professor John Urry, who wrote one of the Government’s Foresight Group’s into the future of cities’ first reports, Living in the City, and Professor Sir Alan Wilson, who chairs the Government’s Foresight Group, will be among those discussing what is in store for cities over the next 50 years.

Speaking on the theme of Living in the City of the Future, Professor Urry from Lancaster University will look at the various cityscapes of the future, including ‘digital cities’, where widespread physical movements of people and objects are replaced by different forms of digital communication, and a nightmarish ‘fortress city’, in which there is a war for resources between rich and poor.

Presenting on Science and the Future of Cities, Professor Sir Alan from University College London and a former vice-chancellor of the University of Leeds, will look at how factors such as demographic change, urban economies, the environment and the way cities are constructed impact on their futures.

Professor Adam Crawford, of the Leeds Social Sciences Institute at the University of Leeds, which is organising the Future Cities event, said: “This conference will set out the key challenges for the cities of the future, with the University’s own expertise in this topic coming to the fore.

“The cityscapes we will inhabit in years to come are of concern to all of us, so this is a welcome opportunity to see how leaders in the field view the city of the future.”

The Future Cities conference, in the Great Hall at the University of Leeds, will also feature Tom Riordan, chief executive of Leeds City Council, speaking about challenges and opportunities for the city of Leeds.

At the event, a research showcase will demonstrate the work taking place at the University of Leeds in the areas of Big Data, Low Carbon Futures, iBuild – which focuses on the networks of roads, energy, water, transport, waste and ICT that support all the services which have a direct effect on the social, environmental and economic wellbeing of our society – and Financialisation – the dominance of financial markets over more traditional industrial and agricultural economies – Economy, Society and Sustainable Development – a multidisciplinary project which aims to forge alliances across the social sciences.

A roundtable discussion will also consider which challenges need tackling first in our cities, looking at what makes them successful and how research can inform and prepare us for the future.

Visit the Leeds Social Science Institute for further details:

Further information

Professor Sir Alan Wilson, Professor John Urry and Professor Adam Crawford are available for interview. Contact Ben Jones in the University of Leeds press office on 0113 343 8059 or email