ERES 2022: Repurposing retail space: exploring relationships through assemblage thinking

Event Start Date:
22nd June 2022
Event End Date:
25th June 2022
Event Venue:
28th Annual ERES Conference, Milan, Italy, 22-25 June 2022

Repurposing retail space: exploring relationships through assemblage thinking

ERES 2022, Milan, Italy

 Cath Jackson[1] , Victoria Lawson[2]  and Allison M.Orr[2]



The retail sector is undergoing a period of unprecedented structural change, compounded by changing behaviours and contraction of economies due to the covid-19 pandemic. The amount of vacant space in city centres has risen dramatically and debate is taking place over optimal future uses. The process of repurposing vacant space is fraught with risk and uncertainties but remains critical to realising a resilient and adaptive city centre. The process of repurposing space involves multiple stakeholder groups, often with shared aspirations but sometimes seemingly competing commitments and responsibilities. Stakeholder relationships are explored here, to better understand the practice of repurposing retail real estate in UK city centres and provide guidance for real estate and planning practice on how best to enable change.<br>Assemblage theory is adopted to best reflect the complexities of the real estate market and the wider city centre environment. This theory, or way of thinking, offers a way of recognising the processual and relational nature of change in the repurposing of space, and the heterogeneous nature of both real estate itself and the stakeholder groups involved. It provides the conceptual framework for the study and guides the data collection and analysis, through five case studies.


[1] Department of Urban Studies and Planning, University of Sheffield

[2]  Urban Studies, School of Social and Political Sciences, University of Glasgow


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