Vacant lots have long vexed cities—especially the architects, landscape architects, urban designers, and planners working in them. In the past few decades hundreds of design ideas for abandoned property have emerged. Some remain purely speculative, while others have been tested and implemented. Meanwhile, neither the preoccupation with nor the accruement of abandoned property has abated.
This curated collection of 100 ideas for abandoned property is intended to serve both as documentation and speculation. All of the ideas are possible—they either have been or could be proposed for a piece of formerly occupied land.
It is hard, naïve, even dangerous to forget the years of exploitation or to pause the dream of rebuilding on these vacant lands. It is human nature to want to replace building with building. It is distressing to see the built environment dissolving, pulling economic resources and social support systems down in its wake. It is tragic to live in its midst. At the same time, it is rejuvenating to see the expansive sky allowed by open fields, to watch volunteer plants take root and grow tall, to allow water to infiltrate soils, to generate energy through climatic conditions, and to see animals and people at play, at work, and at rest in the landscape. The people, the wildlife, and the land are embodied resources.
These fallow landscapes are everywhere and everywhere they are distinct. The goal is to convey their idiosyncratic potentials without disclosing their hidden identities. It is an attempt to look intently at the present lived condition, as a reflection of a complex past, in order to imagine equally rich and varied futures. In so many of these examples, it is a matter not so much of making drastic change to the sites themselves, as drastically reimagining how we approach them.
Curated by Jill Desimini, Associate Professor of Landscape Architecture