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.

Mon 16 Nov

Live Case 5: Innovation and Improvisation

Sometimes, in order to be innovative you have to improvise. When we started working on the Mid Wales Living Lab in 2018 the team at Aberystwyth University and the Welsh Local Government Association fixed on developing a Rural Vision for Wales as our key objective. In the context of Welsh...


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