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Why Cities Are the Future

Festival of the Future City

Watershed  |  £5 – £10

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Cities offer the solutions to many of the challenges we face. But cities are at a crossroads, facing the impact of pandemics, loneliness, the damage caused by climate change, and ever-increasing inequality.

As the world urbanises rapidly, it’s cities that can and must lead the way on creating more equal and fairer societies and more sustainable living and working. What happens in cities will affect us all.

Ian Goldin – author of Age of the City: Why Our Future Will be Won or Lost Together – said, ‘It is in cities that the battle for a better world will be won or lost.’ Syrian architect Marwa Al-Sabouni – author of The Battle for Home and Building for Hope: Towards an Architecture of Belonging – believes our homes and place can provide the basic foundations for happiness. Lara Oyedele – social entrepreneur, property developer and campaigner for affordable housing (and current President of the Chartered Institute of Housing) – wants to end homelessness and create better places. They come together to discuss how we can plan for and look ahead to cities full of opportunity.

All attendees will be given a free copy of Bristol 650 book, a collection of newly commissioned essays about the future of Bristol.

Professor Ian Goldin is Professor of Globalisation and Development at the University of Oxford. He is a Professorial Fellow at the University’s Balliol College. From 2006 to 2016 he was the founding Director of the Oxford Martin School and currently leads the Oxford Martin Research Programmes on Technological and Economic Change, the Future of Work, and the Future of Development.

Marwa al-Sabouni is a Syrian architect and author of Building for Hope: Towards an Architecture of Belonging. She is an urban thinker who believes that architects have a duty to stimulate social cohesion. When war enveloped her city, Homs, she refused to leave and remained a virtual prisoner in her home for two years. In her autobiography, The Battle for Home: The Vision of a Young Architect in Syria, al-Sabouni analyses how architecture and city planning have played a role in fuelling violence and civil conflict by distorting community relationships and fragmenting societies.

Lara Oyedele is Vice President of the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH). She is a social entrepreneur who originally trained as a journalist. She has a 25-year career in social housing including 8 years as CEO of Odu-Dua Housing Association. Oyedele was the founding Chair of BMENational, the collective of BME housing associations. She originated the idea of and sourced funding for the housing-rights website, which provides housing advice for migrants and their advisers.

Booking Information

Ticket booking is via Eventbrite. Please review Eventbrite’s terms and conditions and Privacy Policy as Bristol Ideas do not accept any responsibility or liability for the policies. You can read Bristol Ideas’ Privacy policy here.

Please note we only refund tickets if the event is cancelled. Events start punctually and, out of consideration to other audience members and speakers, our policy is not to admit or issue refunds to latecomers. Full Terms and Conditions here.

Pay What You Feel

This event is part of our new ticket pricing structure where we ask people to pay what they feel they can afford in accordance with their means. Read more about it here. Read on for the ticket prices for this event.

One free carer ticket can be booked at the same time for a paying disabled visitor. If you need to book more than one, please contact us before booking to arrange.

Pay It Forward

The Pay It Forward option enables you to book a ticket above the standard price, and will help to subsidise a ticket for someone who requires the Pay What You Can option. This option is aimed at people who are able to meet their basic needs and would like to help somebody else with the cost of their ticket.

  • Is this for me? – I have access to a regular and stable income and I have the means and desire to contribute towards making the event affordable for others and supporting Bristol Ideas.


This recommended price is based on what we’d traditionally charge for a similar event. It helps us make sure that basic costs are covered. This price is aimed at people who are able to meet their basic needs and have enough to live on.

  • Is this for me? – I have access to a regular and disposable income, and I can comfortably afford the recommended ticket price.


This option is lower than the recommended price. It is subsidised by Bristol Ideas and fellow audience members who have booked at the Pay It Forward rate. This price is aimed at people who could do with support to get by.

  • Is this for me? – My access to income is low and unstable and I worry about meeting my basic needs. I would select a concession rate due to my personal circumstances.

No one will be turned away due to lack of funds, so please contact us if you have any queries.


  • Watershed’s main entrance and Box Office are both on the ground floor which is accessible via a ramped, electronically assisted entrance door.
  • There are two Blue Badge parking spaces to the rear of Watershed on Canons Road.
  • Guide dogs and hearing dogs are very welcome.
  • The first floor of Watershed is accessible via lift from the main entrance and includes level access to all areas, including the cinemas and event spaces.
  • The cinemas and event spaces have induction loops.
  • There is an accessible toilet (with baby changing facilities) near Cinema 1. Follow the signs for the Cinemas and the accessible toilet is just on your left through the double doors before Cinema 1.
  • There are gender neutral toilets in the cinema corridor on the first floor.

Visit Watershed’s Access page for more information.

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