Skip to main content

Public Space Observatory Research Centre

We bring together local, national, and international researchers, practitioners and policymakers engaged with the provision, design, use and management of public space.


Our primary aims are to build new partnerships and collaborations, share resources, promote knowledge exchange, empower local communities, advance cutting-edge knowledge regarding the provision, design, use and management of public space, and inform related theories, practices and policies.


Public space plays a key role in the New Urban Agenda. There is a growing global recognition that public space is a significant aspect of the quality of urban life and is a key component of sustainable urban development.

However, with globalisation, new technological advances, and increasing social diversity, public space is taking new forms, meanings and roles, which are creating new needs and demands, and changing the ways public life is experienced and negotiated.

This changing and complex context brings new challenges for public space researchers, designers, and policymakers, calling for more research and practice to explore the new potentials of public space and to develop more socio-cultural sensitive and research-based practices and policies in relation to the provision, design, use and management of public space.


Project nameFunderInvestigator(s)
Public Life in Changing Urban SpacesOn-campus Internships Scheme (2023)

Dr Hesam Kamalipour

Dr Nastaran Peimani

Invisible /Visible Urbanities: Framing Public Space in a Global ContextGEOPL Community Fund (2022-23)

Dr Hesam Kamalipour

Urban Life and Public Space DesignOn-campus Internships Scheme (2022)

Dr Hesam Kamalipour

Dr Nastaran Peimani

European Public Space Design Programs with Social Cohesion and Intercultural Dialogue in MindCUROP 2017 and 2018

Cities Research Centre Seed Funding 2017

RMIT Exchange Grant 2018

Dr Patricia Lopes Simoes Aelbrecht

Dr Richard Gale

Professor Gary Bridge

Dr Quentin Stevens

Dr Tuna Tasan-Kok

Professor Tom Nielsen

My/Your Cardiff Public Space CampaignESRC Impact Acceleration Account 2021

Dr Patricia Lopes Simoes Aelbrecht

Dr Wesley Aelbrecht

Negotiating Livelihoods and Rights in Contested Urban SpaceHEFCW GCRF 2020

Dr Hesam Kamalipour

Dr Nastaran Peimani

Dr Debdulal Saha



Invisible/Visible Urbanities (An urban photography exhibition)

Location: The foyer and central corridor of the Glamorgan Building, Cardiff University

Date: March 2023 – June 2023

The exhibition presents a visual exploration of how places and public spaces are being made, unmade, and remade in a global context. It includes a curated collection of black and white photographs taken by Dr Hesam Kamalipour as part of his storytelling urban photography project, exploring forms of urbanity across cities in the global North and South. The exhibition is supported by the GEOPL Community Fund 2022-23.

Framing Public Space in a Global Context (A discission and engagement event)
Location: Committee Rooms 1 and 2 of the Glamorgan Building, Cardiff University
Date: 25 April 2023
The Invisible/Visible Urbanities exhibition concludes with a panel discussion and engagement event on Tuesday 25 April 2023 (4pm-5:30pm) in Committee Rooms 1 and 2 of the Glamorgan Building. The event is supported by the GEOPL Community Fund 2022-23.

My/your Cardiff Public Space Campaign (Public Uni Event organised by Cardiff University and Swansea University)

Location: Chapter Arts Centre, Cardiff

Date: 28 February 2020

Patricia Aelbrecht, Hesam Kamalipour and Nastaran Peimani gave a talk about My/Your Cardiff Public Space Campaign. My/Your Cardiff Public Space Campaign aims to raise public awareness about the value of well-designed, managed and used public spaces.

It promises to have long-lasting impact in Cardiff's public space design, development and management practices and policies. It is also set to change the physical landscape and culture of Cardiff’s public space and many other British cities in the coming years.

International guest lecture by Dr Debdulal Saha titled ‘Legislating street vending: challenges and alternative development’

Location: School of Geography and Planning, Cardiff University

Date: 20 February 2020

Street vendors are considered as one of the most marginalised, poor and vulnerable groups of workers in the urban informal economy. Their activity is broadly characterised by easy entry, strong social network, the dominance of informal credit market and extensive rent-seeking.

With the passing of the Street Vendors (Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending) Act, 2014, the activity would be regulated, protected and brought under the folds of legality. With the legality, the puzzle is whether the activity will become a part of the formal economy or will vendors continue sustaining in the extra-legal frame?

Drawing from a longitudinal study in Mumbai, the talk examined the structural changes that the street market has undergone, mainly from demand-driven to supply-led.

International guest lecture by Dr Debdulal Saha titled ‘Public space, politics and survival strategies: Street vendors in urban India’.

Location: Welsh School of Architecture, Cardiff University

Date: 20 February 2020

The central problem and struggle of vendor’s precarious livelihood are around utilisation of public space. Drawing from primary data collected in Mumbai, it discusses how despite the absence of proper legal and institutional frameworks, vendors subsist by arranging adhoc alternatives, creating informal institutions and negotiating with formal and informal actors in the urban economy.

A vendor exercises two kinds of bargaining with the space – economic and social. Individualism with rationality is practiced while economic bargaining to negotiate over rates of interest on credit and the rates of bribery. Social bargaining is exercised through collectivism to build social relations with actors such as customers, fellow vendors, and moneylenders.

Contact us

You can get in touch with us via email at


School of Geography and Planning

We are a multi-disciplinary applied human geography and urban studies school.

Next steps