Document Type



Available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike 4.0 International Licence


Urban studies (Planning and development)

Publication Details

Futures Academy, Technological University Dublin. 2005.


Thinking about the future of humanity cannot be separated from thinking about the future of cities. Today, half of the world’s population lives in cities and the number of urban dwellers is constantly growing. On one hand, cities play a key role in generating economic growth; they are cores of human activity and frontiers of technological and cultural progress. On the other, urban areas are a source of a broad range of social and environmental problems and are especially vulnerable to the threats posed by factors such as climate change, terrorism, pandemic, social and cultural clashes. Considering the role and situation of cities today, it becomes evident that a change in ways of thinking and acting about the future of cities is required in order to ensure their prosperous and sustainable development in the future. This paper argues that futures methodologies can stimulate that change by providing a fresh, systematic, imaginative and innovative approach for the examination of possible, probable and desirable urban futures. On the outset, the paper explores the reasons behind the recent growth of interest in the application of futures methodologies in urban planning. It discusses the shortcomings of the current planning approach towards the future and outlines in which way futures methodologies can assist communities and decision-makers in envisioning and creating the desired future. Finally, the authors present the Prospective methodology model that can be used to promote and facilitate the shift in ways of thinking and acting about the future of cities.