Cities of Making aims to explore the role of urban based manufacturing in European cities in the 21st century. Using a combination of strategic and action research, our ambition is to identify what works in supporting a resilient and innovative industrial base, and to test those solutions in a real world setting. We will learn from experiences in London, Rotterdam and Brussels – each with a distinct industrial heritage. By the end of the project we will have developed ideas, practices and policies focusing on public authorities (and many other relevant stakeholders) that may drive a new age of urban manufacturing embedded in place, people and locally available resources.

Objectives, project goals and planned results.

We aim to define the key leverage points that public services in Europe can use to support existing urban manufacturing and how to encourage new forms to emerge. This is focused on three main research streams: materials and technology, spatial conditions and socio-economic conditions. While find these themes to be significant leverage points, we also recognise and will respond to broader drivers/inhibitors of re-industrialisation, such as: infrastructure, skills, taxation and local economy. Our research base focuses on three European cities, however we aim to describe findings that can be scaled up across Europe and beyond. The transferability will further be tested inviting also current project partners of related EU projects of the main partners, as H2020 “Repair”, to the Wp3 workshops. We will ensure the project remains relevant through ongoing stakeholder engagement (based on successful methods developed within the team), public outreach/communications and regular interaction within the team (face-to-face knowledge exchange). Examples of stakeholders range from local authority planning officers, development organisations, regeneration groups, councillors and elected officials, waste management officials, educators within higher and further education, architects and urban planners, waste management teams, and private-public sector business groups (such as project partner BECI in Brussels).

Using three cities (Brussels, London and Rotterdam) we firstly aim to have a better understanding of existing urban industry, local policy priorities, a scan of public actors operating in this space, data on available materials , urban capacity to deal with new forms of manufacturing and the development of innovative new projects. We will produce reports (for the three cities and a global trend analysis) for comparative analysis and foundation for the rest of the project.

Leverage points for urban manufacturing.

Focusing on three key research tracks (governance, materials/technology and buildings/space) we aim to dig deeper into the building blocks that could catalyse change. Although this will be orientated to the needs of the three cities, the results will offer the foundation for many other European cities. The outcomes will include both applied research and practical resource for planning. Resources are a synthesis of the applied research using common language, diagrams and tools to facilitate the discussion on urban manufacturing and is aimed at both public services policy makers and practitioners.

We will apply the knowledge learnt about the cities and test the resources on a site in each of the three cities, selected with stakeholders at an earlier stage. We will explore the structure of the organisation administering the public services which may include established public authorities, a public-private partnership or a development agency. The circumstances can be affected by many variables so we will take a site in each city as a test case.

The end result may be treated as a manifesto for urban manufacturing which we hope will reduce the complexity of making informed decisions about the value of urban manufacturing and how to deal with it. As industry has developed a negative stigma, we will show how a vast range of technology can be located in urban areas by compiling the results of the research into a manifesto.


The work will be founded in applied research while engaging regular stakeholder co-creation (e.g. through local Question Time-style events, consultation and workshops). Research will be based on empirical city level data while exploring innovative approaches to governance in public services planning policy. We will produce relevant research for academic journals while synthesising results to foster multi-disciplinary stakeholder focused discussions. The project will involve regular engagement, feedback and updates within the group and also stakeholder outreach and communications, ensuring the research results are relevant while the outcomes are spread across the project for public discussion. We are particularly interested in manufacturing and businesses that have a critical role within the ecosystem of the city, supporting its workforce, communities, culture and public services.

What is new about Cities of Making?

This project brings together three critical aspects associated with urban manufacturing. Firstly, while extensive work has been done on industry, it remains unclear what materials (particularly waste) and which technologies are most relevant for urban manufacturing within the European context. Therefore, we aim to clearly describe the state-of-the-art relating to both. Secondly, as old industry has been largely pushed out of cities, more amenable new technologies are being developed. Yet it remains unclear where innovative forms of urban manufacturing can be accommodated, so we will explore various suitable urban typologies. Finally, future public services relating to a complex topic such as re-industrialisation require new governance capacities and transition strategies which we will research in practice three cases to prove that relevance of the research.