Trend: How Repurposed Neglected Space Energizes Urban Landscapes [My Ideal City]

Trend: How Repurposed Neglected Space Energizes Urban Landscapes [My Ideal City]

Rebuilding derelict urban environments can improve commerce and cultural exchange while simultaneously preserving the distinct feel of a neighborhood.

  • 28 april 2013

Across the world, many developers are running projects aimed at counteracting urban decay. As cities struggle to find available land for new development projects, there is a counter-movement that is reinvigorating existing urban infrastructure and buildings that in many cases have been neglected and fallen into disuse.

Winka Dubbeldam, celebrated architect and principal of Archi-Tectonics, recently lent her expertise to a crowdsourced plan to revitalize Bogota, Colombia called MyIdealCity. She believes that the future of urban planning is in derelict revival. In her words:

Re-densification of our city centers and promoting residential use, can be stimulated by promoting culture, especially to bottom up culture, as a direct expression of society…And a way to start a new social-economic trend.


A celebrated example of this trend is The High Line park in New York City. The project is a linear park built on a section of the former elevated New York Central Railroad Spur called the West Side Line. The abandoned railway has been redesigned and planted as an aerial greenway. In addition to providing additional green space for residents and tourists alike, the recycling of railway into an urban park has spurred real estate development in the neighborhoods which lie along the Line. James Corner, landscape architect and lead designer behind the project, believes that reviving neglected spaces can energize urban landscapes:

The High Line had its own mythology long before we came along. In particular, the ‘Friends of the High Line’ were instrumental in creating this distinct image around the High Line – they established an aura that projected an idea that this was in fact a post-industrial artifact maintaining a sense of melancholy and other-worldliness in a city context that, by contrast, was ever-evolving and modernizing. But to take that detail and to actually instill and transform it into a public landscape where people can stroll, sit and enjoy amazing vistas across the city was too great an opportunity to pass up.

high line derelict revival

PSFK reached out and spoke to Robert Hammond, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Friends of the High Line, to get his thoughts on the implications of park:

I’ve never thought of it as just a park. To me, it is more like an ever-changing cultural institution. In the not-too-distant future, the third and final section of the High Line will open to visitors, but I don’t think that will be the end of the story. The High Line’s horticulture, design, art, programs, and community outreach will evolve, with new innovations and surprises each season. I bet in just five years, Friends of the High Line will be dreaming up new initiatives and ideas that we can’t even imagine right now. To me, the High Line was never just about the plants and the design; it has always been about the people. A diverse community of people.

high line nyc derelict revival

Another example of the derelict revival trend is the Madrid Río park in Spain which augments a formerly neglected area in the center of Spain’s capital. Its design buries what was an intrusive highway while simultaneously connecting formerly disjointed neighborhoods to Madrid’s city center.


The reimagination and rehabilitation, or ‘derelict revival’, of these decaying urban environments enhances existing structures and makes them suitable for public use, while retaining notes pointing to the original character of the past. These modern hybrids can serve as burgeoning civic centers, bringing new opportunities for commerce and cultural exchange.

Q. What abandoned spaces in your city or neighborhood would you revitalize and turn into recreational or sport areas?

Submit your answer now at the MyIdealCity site – or tweet your suggestion using #MyIdealCity and #UrbanCanvas


Over the next 6 months, PSFK will be covering urban trends that are changing the cities we live in at Contribute your ideas at the MyIdealCity site.


Wearable Tech Expert: Designing Technology To Empower Connection To Ourselves

Work Today

Health Expert: Nutritional Meal Replacements Are A Solution To Corporate Wellness

Ample Foods Founder Conner Young explains why supplements are the next food trend coming to the workplace

Retail Today

Why Experiential Events Could Replace Trade Shows

Marketers are seeking creative and impactful new ways to connect with influencers


Get PSFK's Related Report: Future of Retail: Technology Primer

See All
Technology Today

Modular Kit Teaches Kids How To Make Their Own Robots

MODI features magnetic modules and a platform for programming to encourage experimentation

Infants Today

Work Table Doubles As A Baby Seat

Designer Kunsik Choi created the furniture to facilitate emotional communication between between parents and their children

Arts & Culture Today

Album Turns Into Something New Each Time It’s Streamed

Bill Baird's new album explores the relationship between time and music through a website crafted by design team, One Pixel Wide

Technology Today

Wearable Device And Lamp Recreate Beautiful Sunsets In Your Home

Sun Memories can record up to six hours of natural light and reproduce it via a connected light at a later date

Design & Architecture Today

Flower Pencils Create Cherry Blossom Petals When Sharpened

A Japanese stationary company developed the special implements in order to create unique shavings


Future Of Automotive
Scenarios Driving The Digital Transformation Of An Industry

PSFK Op-Ed october 17, 2016

Home Depot Green Energy Expert: Americans Are Taking Control Of Their Power Use

Green tech expert Jennifer Tuohy discusses new home energy tech and developments for renewables in the US

PSFK Labs october 12, 2016

PSFK Picks: Top 5 Performance-Enhancing Wearables

Our new report looks at innovations pioneering the future of performance through intelligent activewear and predictive analytics

Augmented & Virtual Reality Today

The Simpsons Is Stepping Into The World Of VR

To celebrate their 600th episode, the animated family sitcom created a virtual reality version of their opening gag

Syndicated Yesterday

Museum Exhibit Celebrates Strange Architectural Contraptions

Artist William Heath Robinson's peculiar genius is on display in this recent show with wiggling ducts, jumbles of planks and coils of cable

Food Yesterday

This Sensor Will Help You Brew The Perfect Cup Of Tea Every Time

42Tea is a small device that guides you through every step of the brewing process, even identifying the type of leaves being used

Design & Architecture Yesterday

Norwegian Mountaineering Center Mimics A Snow-Capped Mountain

The structure's exterior is clad in a uniform surface of pixels to create a unique climbing experience

Gaming & Play Yesterday

Shopping Bag Turns Your Hands Into A LEGO

Designers from the School of Visual Arts thought up the Playbox Bag for a competition

Sustainability Yesterday

Giant Coffee Cups Encourage People To Recycle Their Morning Cup Of Joe

The Hubbub Foundation has created a set of themed bins meant to inspire recycling on a large scale

Home Yesterday

Small Device Creates A Personal Weather Station Inside In Your Home

Netatmo's new sensor is a standalone air quality monitor that can measure humidity, purity, noise and temperature

Travel Yesterday

Advertising Proposal Aims To Be The Most “Instagrammable Billboard In The World”

The Belltower in Los Angeles would allow video advertising and live event streaming, and include a pedestrian plaza for visitors

No search results found.