ERES 2023: The physicality of the built environment in (re)purposing city centres.

Event Start Date:
12th July 2023
Event End Date:
15th July 2023
Event Venue:
IOE780 building, UCL, Bloomsbury campus

The physicality of the built environment in (re)purposing city centres.

Cath Jackson:

Department of Urban Studies and Planning, University of Sheffield, UK


The retail sector is experiencing unprecedented change, caused by shifts in shopping behaviour, multiples downsizing their portfolios and withdrawing from urban centres and business failure, compounded by the covid-19 pandemic. Consequently, the number of vacant units in many city centres has risen significantly, creating redundant space, which has both a negative impact on the user experience and leads to a further decline in footfall for remaining city centre businesses. This has raised questions about how to fill the subsequent empty space and how city centres should be positioned, what their role should be. With a focus on adaptability at the individual property level, the aim of the paper is to examine the impact of the physicality of the built environment in the practice of transforming vacant floorspace. This raises questions about both the surrounding area and the challenges of adaptation to mixed-uses. The importance of the physicality of real estate in processes of change and adaptation is not often explored, yet can often be fundamental to the viability of change.

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