Diego Barrado

Universidad Autónoma de Madrid (UAM)  /  Associate Professor of Human Geography  /  UAM Local Coordinator 


The Sustainable and Liveable City

Research interests

Keywords: urban studies, culture and economic development, tourism, nature and development

Urban tourism: Since the Grand Tour in the eighteenth and nineteenth century tourism has been an innate activity in cities, mainly in those which has an important cultural heritage and has been traditionally considered as ‘historic cities’. However, it has not been until the last decades when tourism has acquired an important presence in the political, economic, social, cultural and special urban life. Due to this new public presence of tourism, deeper researches are need in the relationships between urban dynamics and tourism sector in many different aspects, as for instance: a) tourism as an urban economic sector; b) cultural and monumental heritage and tourism; c) tourists and the use of public space; d) social and cultural implications of tourism.

Urban cultural sustainability: Although the cultural dimension has been traditionally accepted as one of the main pillar of sustainability, environmental and physical viewpoints have traditionally dominated this scientific approach to cities. Due to this predominance of these aspects, deeper researches are needed in relation with a huge array of concepts and processes directly related with the role of culture in the processes of urban sustainable development, such as heritage, cultural capital, identity and sense, how to measure sustainability and so on.

Cultural industries and urban city centres: In the last decades culture has begun to be considered as an important economic sector. Form an urban point of view, this change has entailed that apart from been promoted as a social right through equipments and facilities, culture is considered a strategic sector for the regeneration of the urban city centres. Among other important issues, it is crucial to understand a) how these cultural actors and micro-companies cluster to develop a chain of value; and b) how some characteristic cultural urban activities such as theatre, music, cinema and so on could improve the cities centres for an geographical, social and economic point of view.

City image and urban marketing: Among many other aspects, the globalisation and liberalization of the economy has meant that cities have become important actors in the global economic competition. For this reasons, cities are using the traditional process of marketing to promote or ‘sell’ themselves in a global market, to attract investors, companies, visitors, events and so on. This process involves reflecting and research about a) the traditional image conveyed by a city and b) how it has been use/modify/change for the new economic purpose; as well as c) the means used to convey new images and d) their social, cultural and geographical effects.


Departamento de Geografia
Universidad Autonoma de Madrid
Campus de Cantoblanco
28049 Madrid, Spain

Tel: +34 91 497 20 01

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Stefan De Corte

Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB)  /  4CITIES International Coordinator  /  VUB Local Coordinator


Vrije Universiteit Brussel
WE DGGF, 4th Floor, Pleinlaan 2
1050 Brussels, Belgium

Tel: +32 2 629 33 70

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Marta Domínguez Perez

Universidad Complutense de Madrid (UCM)  /  Assistant Professor of Sociology  /  UCM Local Coordinator


Governance and Local Welfare

Research interests

Keywords: segregation, inequality, urban identity, city centre, migration, children, public space

City Marketing and Urban Identity: Globalization has caused the need for the external promotion of cities and the creation of new local identities. That impact on the exterior and interior of the city, allows some social sectors identify themselves with these new identities and others feel excluded. This process affects both the population and the economic sectors that are attracted by these new identities. In this sense, we study the population and commercial gentrification and new images. Thus also immigration and urban identity is developed.  Migration processes have led to new projects in our cities new problems of coexistence between old and new citizens.

Urban regeneration and population changes: The industrial crisis has generated new scenarios that should respond through urban policies regeneration by the public, private or partnership institutions which generate new tensions and conflicting dynamics with citizens.  It seems that new social sectors are favored by these policies and others who are excluded. The analysis of “who are these policies for” is the focus of interest.

Vulnerable groups in the city: children, women: Cities are designed and aimed at groups of economic and symbolic centrality and they usually exclude groups such as women, children, immigrants, elderly, disabled, etc. We research about how to empower these sectors and analyze experiences and measures to do so.

Public space and the city: Public spaces in the city are the essence of the city, those spaces where the mixture, the difference, opening the encounter with the other, take place. Social practices in the public space (squares, streets, public facilities, etc.) of the various groups in the city (women, children, immigrants, visitors, tourists, etc.) we are interested in assessing the significance that the city acquired its meaning as meeting and mixing.

Sociology of tourism and the city: The impact of tourism in the city is connected with the new urban identities that promote the city and in addition to new images of middle and creative classes that make the culture and entertainment central. In this sense, the analysis of equipment and travel services serves to connect these with the new urban identities and their impact on the total of the city. in this same line, also we are interested in the analysis of urban historical centres and external identity projection.


Department of Applied Sociology
Faculty of Political Sciences and Sociology
Campus de Somosaguas.
28223 Madrid, España

Tel: +34 91 394 26 43

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Yvonne Franz

Universität Wien (UNIVIE)  /  Postdoctoral Researcher  /  UNIVIE Local Coordinator


Socio-Spatial Urban Diversity

Research interests

Keywords: urban geography & planning, neighbourhood development, gentrification, public space, integration policies, governance, social innovation, practice approach, urban living labs

The emergence of new “arrival spaces”: The century of urbanization is characterized by established and newly emerging migration patterns. The process of “arriving to a city” becomes more complex and multi-layered as cities are not only growing by population, but they also face challenges with regard to housing shortage, gentrification processes and the need for multiple integration policies. Besides education and workplaces, the urban housing market is of crucial relevancy for the “arriving population”. Critical reflection is needed on the availability, accessibility and affordability of housing for new residents in order to assess the limitations of “arrival spaces” in cities.

The impact of social innovation in neighbourhood development: Social innovation has been an emerging concept across policy, practice and academia to overcome societal challenges by collaborative practices between civil society, private stakeholders and public actors. The basic understanding of social innovation can be broken down to “any co-created innovation closing the gap of public welfare state service and contributing to a societal benefit”. When it comes to urban studies and more precisely to socio-spatial analyses, the questions arises: How does social innovation impact neighbourhood development? This thesis aims at a better conceptual understanding on social innovation in neighbourhood development, the involved actors and framework conditions, as well as at the development of “social innovation proxies” to identify and measure the potential of social innovation at the local scale.

The role of public spaces for socially cohesive neighbourhoods: Living quality and human wellbeing have come under increased pressure in “successful cities” due to population growth, physical densification, economic valorisation, limited open space and an increased vulnerability to climate change. More than ever, public spaces have become increasingly important as spaces for leisure and relaxation, but even more importantly as spaces for (daily) appropriations, democratic participation and spaces of encounter in diversifying societies. The core interest in this field of research asks how public space can contribute to creating cities that are more ecologically, economically AND socially resilient.


University of Vienna
Department of Geography and Regional Research
Universitätsstraße 7/C406
1010 Vienna, Austria

Tel: +43 1 4277 48783

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Elena Solonina

Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB)  /  Administrative and Logistics Assistant for 4CITIES and Brussels Centre for Urban Studies  /  Assistant International Coordinator and Assistant Local Coordinator VUB


VUB – Vrije Universiteit Brussel
Room 4F65 (Building F, 4th Floor, room 65)
Pleinlaan 2
1050 Brussels, Belgium

Tel: +32 2 629 33 70

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Mathieu van Criekingen

Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB)  /  Professor of Human Geography and Urban Studies  /  ULB Local Coordinator


Urban Economic Geography, Urban Analysis II

Research interests

My research interests are situated in the field of critical urban studies. It explores five main (inter-related) themes, namely: the production of space in the neoliberal city; spatial dimensions of social domination; gentrification (processes, policies, and ways to resist it); alternative urban policies and urbanizations from below.

Keywords: urban political economy, neoliberal city, gentrification, urban policies, urbanizations from below

Research methods: qualitative fieldwork, cartography, statistical analysis


Department of Human Geography
Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB)
Av. F.D. Roosevelt, 50 – CP130/03
1050 Brussels, Belgium

Tel: +32-2-6506825

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Kristin Veel

Københavns Universitet (KU)  /  Associate Professor of Arts and Cultural Studies  /  KU Local Coordinator

Research interests

Keywords: Surveillance, urban infrastructure, datafication, digital technology, domesticity, tech abuse, cultural theory, feminist theory


University of Copenhagen
Department of Arts and Cultural Studies
Karen Blixens Vej 1
DK-2300 Copenhagen S

Tel: +45 20404914

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