ERES 2021: The (re)development of resilient and economically healthy urban retailing centres: an assemblage approach

Event Start Date:
3rd June 2021
Event End Date:
3rd June 2021
Event Venue:
Track B: Urban and Regional Analysis, ERES 2021, Kaiserlautern, Germany, 2nd-5th June 2021

The (re)development of resilient and economically healthy urban retailing centres: an assemblage approach

 ERES 2021, Kaiserlautern, Germany

Dr Cath Jackson [1], Dr Victoria Lawson [2], and Dr Allison Orr [3]


There is a large and diverse range of stakeholders with interests in the city centre. Yet, despite this diversity, they are seen to share a common desire, or aspiration, for resilience. There is diversity in how aspirations for resilience are envisioned, including, variously, the city centre as a hub for economic growth; a capital investment opportunity providing returns to meet obligations; commercial accommodation to enable sustainable business opportunities; a community hub for socialising; an attractive environment for visiting and spending time; a focus for local identity; and so on. Despite this diversity in interests, and the increasing challenges faced by all stakeholders, the common aspiration for resilience serves to bind the components into an assemblage.

This research, therefore, sees the city centre through assemblage thinking and seeks to apply this theory to explore the ways that city centre assemblages may function to foster economic growth, or to hinder adaptive capacity. An assemblage approach has not been utilised in the commercial real estate discipline previously. It is adopted here to best reflect the complexities of the real estate market and wider environment, and to explore relationships between components of the assemblage (both human and non-human), to identify characteristics and capacities of elements and relationships that can hinder, and those that can enable, the adaptive capacity of city centres.

Here we present insights into how the city centre can be explored using assemblage thinking, what insights are enabled by adopting this approach and some preliminary results of empirical analyses. Utilising examples of change across five UK case study cities (Edinburgh, Glasgow, Hull, Liverpool and Nottingham) the involvement of land and property owners and developers are explored to reveal the ways that social structures may work to create unique retailing destinations, or to hinder adaptive capacity.

[1] Senior Lecturer in Real Estate, University of Sheffield

[2] Research Associate, REPAIR, University of Sheffield

[3] Senior Lecturer in Real Estate, University of Glasgow

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