Michael W. Mehaffy


This article is a report on the work of our group, the Centre for the Future of Places at KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, and its role as an outgrowth of the Future of Places initiative – a partnership of UN-Habitat, the Ax:son Johnson Foundation, and the Project for Public Spaces.  The original Future of Places initiative was a series of high-level conferences that brought together over 1,500 researchers, professionals, government leaders and activists from 275 organizations in 100 countries. The Future of Places also served as the first Urban Thinkers Campus, contributing to Habitat III and the language of its outcome document, the New Urban Agenda (United Nations, 2017).  A primary focus of our series was the central role of public space as the connective framework for healthy urbanization – a point we made clear in the introduction to our “Key Messages” document: The Future of Places affirms the role of public spaces as the essential connective network on which healthy cities and human settlements grow and prosper. Public spaces enable synergistic interaction and exchange, creativity and delight, and the transfer of knowledge and skills. Public spaces can help residents to improve their prosperity, health, happiness and wellbeing, and to enrich their social relations and cultural life... (Future of Places, 2019).


How to Cite
Mehaffy, M. W. (2019) “Public Space in the New Urban Agenda: A Global Perspective on Our Common Urban Future”, The Journal of Public Space, 4(4), pp. 115–124. doi: 10.32891/jps.v4i4.1236.
Reports from 'Past Present and Future of Public Space'
Author Biography

Michael W. Mehaffy, KTH Royal Institute of Technology

Michael W. Mehaffy, Ph.D., is Senior Researcher with the Ax:son Johnson Foundation and the Centre for the Future of Places at KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm. He is also an author, educator, urban designer, planner, and strategic development consultant with an international practice. He has held teaching and/or research appointments at seven graduate institutions in six countries, and he is on the editorial boards of two international journals of urban design. He was a consultant to UN-Habitat for the Habitat III conference and its outcome document, The New Urban Agenda, and he has consulted for governments, businesses and NGOs on its implementation and related topics. After graduate study and apprenticeship in architecture with architect Christopher Alexander at U.C. Berkeley, he received his Ph.D. in architecture at Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands. Dr. Mehaffy is also Executive Director of the Sustasis Foundation, a small urban sustainability think tank, and the Lennard Institute for Livable Cities, host of the International Making Cities Livable (IMCL) conference series. He is noted for his published research articles, professional articles and books on urban morphology, urban self-organization, architecture, computer science, and philosophy.


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