The origins of the intercultural city concept



The concept of the Intercultural City originated with the British think tank Comedia. In 2004, with support from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, Comedia conducted a two year research programme entitled 'The Intercultural City: Making the Most of Diversity'. Its aims were to:

consider the extent to which cultural diversity is a source of innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship and how this can become a positive force releasing new energy and resources for the development of cities.

understand how the combination of different cultural skills and attributes leads to new and divergent thinking and what are the conditions that most encourage this.

explore the extent to which increased intercultural dialogue, exchange and activity is the catalyst for this process.

seek to understand the role of intercultural networks and intermediary change-agents, finding out who they are, how they work and what are the conditions which either encourage or hinder them.

explore the institutional barriers and opportunities to maximizing economic benefits and aim to provide guidance for future policy on diversity and wealth creation in cities.


The project was directed by Phil Wood ( who is now principal advisor to the CoE/EU Intercultural Cities programme.


Research was conducted in the UK, United States, Australia, New Zealand and Norway. It led to an extensive series of research findings and publications. Some of these can be acquired from the Comedia website:


The Intercultural City Reader

Editor: Phil Wood, 2004


Planning for the Intercultural City

Jude Bloomfield and Franco Bianchini, 2004


The Road to Interculturalism: tracking the arts in a changing world

Naseem Khan, 2006


Planning & Designing Culturally: More than just a bridge

Richard Brecknock, 2006


Others can be accessed from this site.


The main publication arising from the project, which first set out the emerging methodology of intercultural cities was:

How can we unlock the potential of cultural diversity in cities?

By Phil Wood, Charles Landry and Jude Bloomfield, 2006

This report was then extensively expanded upon to become the book which has provided the methodological and conceptual foundation for the Intercultural Cities programme:


The Intercultural City: Planning for Diversity Advantage

By Phil Wood and Charles Landry Earthscan, London, 2008


Other publications from the project

1. Is Bristol Open?

(A city case study based upon extensive interviews whose main output was the creation of a set of Indicators of Openness)


2. The Attraction and Retention of Migrants to the Tyne and Wear City Region

(A city case study exploring how less-favoured regions can attract migrants, recommending changes in UK national legislation and in local cultural attitudes and procedures)


3. Knowing Lewisham

(A city case study of a London Borough exploring new approaches to urban planning and development through the a better understanding and application of cultural literacy)


4. Intercultural Consultation for a Global City District

(A city case study in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, recommending new approaches to community engagement, particularly around neighbourhood planning issues)


5. Ethnic diversity and entrepreneurship in Oslo and Drammen

(Two related city case studies of the application of intercultural approaches in the Norwegian context)


6. A wellspring of ideas, a meeting of people

(A city case study in Auckland, New Zealand of what intercultural approaches could achieve in a traditionally bi-cultural, and recently multi-ethnic, context)


7. City of Logan

(A city case study from Queensland, Australia, on the influence of ethnic spatial distribution on levels of intercultural engagement)


8. When immigrants revive a city and when they donít: lessons from American cities

by Gregg Zachary


9. Intercultural Social Entrepreneurship

by Lise Bisballe


10. Intercultural innovations in UK business practices

by Lia Ghilardi


11. The role of schools in the intercultural city

by Maurice Coles and Bob Vincent


12. Planning and Engaging with Intercultural Communities

by Phil Wood


13. Intercultural Sport

by Charles Landry


14. Profile of Intercultural Innovators

by Jude Bloomfield




Intercultural Cities

Intercultural Integration Model


Frequently asked questions

Diversity and community development, an intercultural approach



Irena Guidikova
+33 388 41 32 19

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