Transformational
thinking

From place to place

24 February, 2020

From the long-forecasted ‘death of the high-street’ to tube stations being taken out of use, our urban landscape is in constant flux. But what do we do with the spaces left behind?

Car parks are one example. If the UK is to meet climate change targets, we’ll need a drastic switch away from driving. But instead of leaving car parks to lie empty, across the world, these multi-storey monoliths are being given second lives as rooftop bars, orchestral concert venues and even student accommodation.

Repurposing spaces is not new. From using air raid shelters as urban salad farms to turning old telephone boxes into mini libraries, the UK is full of municipal constructions being put to unlikely uses. And whether you want to enjoy cocktails in a disused underground toilet or go trampolining in a former Welsh mine, there’s something for everyone.

What will the next places to be given a new life be? Will the rise of ‘flight shaming’ see airport runways reincarnated as cycle tracks? Will a shift away from meat mean that factory farms are reborn as avant-garde art galleries?

Over the coming years, behavioural and cultural shifts will undoubtedly have a radical effect on our towns and cities. But, as we reposition our habits, unused real estate can, itself, have a role to play in furthering progress – from encouraging exercise to fostering community cohesion. In an ever-changing urban environment, we’re excited to see how these disused spaces can be recycled for good.

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