Smart growth without an urban hierarchy: polycentric growth beyond the city-region

Mid Wales Living Lab

Mid Wales is a rural region without a dominant urban centre and with ambiguous boundaries. With no town of more than 20,000 people, this landscape of fields and forestry, large hills and small towns, often gets overlooked as a ‘green desert’ between more populous and prosperous parts of Wales. How can positive rural-urban connections be grown a long way from the city?

The Mid Wales Living Lab brings together researchers at Aberystwyth University with partners from the Welsh Local Government Association.

Together, they share a commitment to tackle the major challenges Mid Wales faces as a predominantly rural region: remoteness, limited infrastructure, access to markets and services, the changing agricultural economy, and the future after Brexit. The focus is on connection, not catch up. The Mid Wales Living Lab aims to identify innovative, inclusive strategies for smart growth and share back their experiences through ROBUST’s public infrastructures and social services, sustainable food systems, and cultural connections communities of practice.

Latest Live Case

Live Cases are a real-time journaling process for the Living Lab case studies. Follow along quarterly to learn more about the experiences and lessons learned taking place in the ROBUST Living Labs.

Wed 16 Jan

Live Case 1: Going "Off Script" in Mid Wales

How can we grow positive rural-urban connections at a distance from the city? We are trying to answer this question through our Living Lab in Mid Wales. As a region which doesn’t have a dominant urban centre, models of city-led growth are not always the answer in this part of the UK. These...


News about Rural-Urban Europe and the ROBUST project is published regularly in the INFORMED CITIES newsletter.

ROBUST is a European research project involving 24 partners from 11 countries. ROBUST receives funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 727988.

European flag