Reprogramming the City Stockholm What If

Stockholm’s “What If” Campaign for Reprogramming the City

Stockholm communication agency Le Bureau put together a video overview of their campaign for my Reprogramming the City initiative at ArkDes, the Swedish Centre for Architecture and Design.

The agency did a fantastic job of taking the central “What If…” catalyst behind the project and amplifying it across media, outdoor billboards and interactive displays, creating an app for public participation and idea generation, all tightly woven around Reprogramming the City: Stockholm.

Scott Burnham Design With the City Not For It

Delivering “The Big Chance” Lecture for American Planning Association, Chicago

On Thursday, October 1, 2015 I will be delivering the latest lecture in The American Planning Association’s “The Big Chance” lecture series in Chicago.

In The Big Chance series, the APA (American Planning Association) selects leading voices in urban strategy and design and invites them to Chicago to present their work and viewpoints to a gathering of professionals at the APA headquarters. Other APA chapters throughout the US will have the opportunity to view a recording of the lecture at a later date. I’m honored to be the one invited for this leg of the series.

I will be speaking about the big ideas behind Reprogramming the City and the benefits that a more resourceful, resilient method of leveraging the potential of existing urban infrastructure, structures, surfaces and systems can have on cities today and tomorrow.

The lecture is free and open to the public. To reserve tickets, go here.

Full listings information is provided below:

The Big Chance: Reprogramming the City
October 1, 2015, 6 p.m. CT
205 N. Michigan Ave., Suite 1200, Chicago

Please join APA for a free lecture by urban strategist, Scott Burnham, who will discuss his Reprogramming the City project. Reprogramming the City is a global exploration of ways in which existing urban objects, structures, surfaces and systems are being re-imagined, repurposed, and reinvented to do more in the city. It is about revealing the hidden potential of the urban assets we already have at hand.

Scott Burnham Interview in Totally Stockholm Magazine

Interview in Totally Stockholm magazine

For English readers, I thought I’d share a piece of media coverage from Reprogramming the City: Stockholm that doesn’t require Google Translate. Totally Stockholm magazine ran a nice interview with me where I dig deep to talk about the inspiration and motivations behind Reprogramming the City. As the journalist introduces the piece:

“Burnham is convinced that the modern urban area of today hides large untapped possibilities within its confines … it’s not only repurposing disused industrial lots but an idea to implement multi-use functions to existing spaces and structures. To look into the possibilities here in Stockholm he made a call to Stockholm-based architects, designers and urban planners, and the result, along with examples from all around the world, will be showcased at Arkitektur-och Designcentrum this summer when *Reprogramming the City – Opportunities for Urban Infrastructure* will explore a new paradigm of urban creativity and resourcefulness.

Burnham quotes the late comedian Bill Hicks: “The next revolution will be a revolution of ideas” and hopes for a revolution in how we think about the potential for the existing urban landscape.

Any interview when I can get into the origin story of Reprogramming the City and get a Bill Hicks quote in is a good interview. You can read it in its entirety here.

SVT Stockholm Interviews Scott Burnham on Reprogramming the City

Interview with Sweden National TV News

With Reprogramming the City: Stockholm up and running at ArkDes, it’s time to share some of the gloss from the media coverage. Below is a short feature and interview with me about the project that was featured on Sweden’s SVT National News. Towards the end I talk about what sets the Stockholm project apart for me.

Reprogramming the City has really resonated with Stockholm and national Swedish media. It never gets old to be flipping through a paper at breakfast and come across an article about your work in the city.

This was staring back at me one morning in the pages of Dagens Nyheter, Sweden's largest daily:
This was staring back at me one morning in Dagens Nyheter, Sweden’s largest daily.

The headline? “The American who wants to make you feel good in town.” Ah, Google Translate, you do know how to flatter.

For Swedish speakers (and those with Google Translate at the ready), the article can be found online here.

Tranebergsbron Bridge, Stockholm, Vision Divisiom

Reprogramming the City: Stockholm, Launching June 2015

I am very pleased to share the news that the next version of Reprogramming the City will launch in June 2015 at the Swedish Centre for Architecture and Design (ArkDes) in Stockholm, Sweden.

I’ve just returned from laying the foundations for the project there, and am particularly excited about this iteration of Reprogramming the City. ArkDes is a great institution with a very talented team, an enormous exhibition space and public outreach, which will enable the project to be experienced at an entirely new scale.

If you’re new to the project, Reprogramming the City is an exploration of ideas, prototypes and proposals for how the existing structures, surfaces and systems of the city can be repurposed and re-imagined to do more than their original function. It is about looking at the existing assets of the city and asking “What More” could they do, and “What If” the city did more with the things it already has.

Reprogramming the City is about experiencing the hidden potential of the city.

The word experience is an important one to highlight in the context of the Stockholm project. The focus at ArkDes is going to be about directly experiencing repurposed and re-imagined urban structures, surfaces and systems. Information and imagination are vital, but touching, feeling and sensing new urban ideas makes potential seem probable.

Among many meetings there last week, I had the pleasure to meet with Rahel Belatchew Lerdell of Belatchew Arkitekter, the firm behind Buzz Building, a proposed repurposing of an existing Stockholm roundabout into a future food source for the city (below). The project has been a favorite of mine since I first came across it, and plans are underway to make Buzz Building an exceptional experience within Reprogramming the City. I’m not giving any spoilers away just yet, but it’s going to be pretty fantastic.

Buzz Building by Belatchew Arkitekter
Buzz Building by Belatchew Arkitekter: Re-imagining an existing Stockholm roundabout (left) as a future food source for the city (right).

More news will come as the project develops. Any questions or want to know more? Please do get in touch.

Scott Burnham giving an overview of Reprogramming the City, Danish Architecture Centre, Copenhagen

Video Overview of Reprogramming the City at Danish Architecture Centre, Copenhagen


The promotional video for Reprogramming the City: Opportunities for Urban Infrastructure at the Danish Architecture Centre, Copenhagen, Denmark. Produced by the DAC, it offers a succinct visual and narrative overview of the show, so I thought I would share it here.

For more information on Reprogramming the City, visit the DAC website here, or read my previous post on the project’s development here.

Reprogramming the City billboard in Copenhagen

Reprogramming the City Goes to Copenhagen

The ways in which Reprogramming the City: Opportunities for Urban Infrastructure has resonated since its launch in Boston last year  at the Boston Society of Architects BSA Space Gallery has been fantastic.

I had the opportunity to talk to mayors from around the world about leveraging the potential of existing urban assets, and was invited to share some ideas on the topic in pieces published in The Guardian, Architizer, The Boston Globe and other places – it’s been a great period of time. While it’s hard to pick a high point from the list, a strong candidate is on the horizon as the project now goes to Copenhagen.

The Danish Architecture Centre in Copenhagen has asked me to create an updated and expanded version of Reprogramming the City for them. The new version will open on October 1, 2014 at the DAC, Strandgade 27B, Copenhagen, Denmark. There’s a lot to be excited about in the Copenhagen version. A range of new projects will be featured, with a focus on some great initiatives for repurposing urban infrastructure being done in Denmark and Scandinavia. (More info here; and a virtual tour of the venue is here.)

New projects include “Under the Bridge” a proposal by Vision Division to create a pedestrian walkway on the concrete vault of the Tranebergsbron bridge in Stockholm, Sweden, with the covered areas beneath the bridge becoming public entertainment areas for film festivals and cultural events.

Also coming from Stockholm is a bold idea to safeguard future urban food supplies. BuzzBuilding, by Belathew Labs, aim to make Stockholm self-sufficient in protein by transforming the city’s traffic roundabouts into a series of insect farms and bee sanctuaries under their InsectCity project which embraces a number of infrastructural elements of the city as potential food production areas.

Growing Underground, London, UK
Growing Underground, London, UK

There is considerable momentum in the field of repurposing urban infrastructure for food production, as a number of projects along these lines make their entrance into the Reprogramming the City arena. Rooftop farms are represented with Copenhagen’s impressive ØsterGro, while at the other end of the spectrum is Growing Underground, a new initiative that uses disused deep level London Underground tunnels as growing areas to produce local food for London today, and a climate safe growing environment for the future.

Urban Air by Stephen Glassman
Urban Air by Stephen Glassman

Also featured will be new images and updated project information from projects such as Urban Air (above) and a range of other projects that were part of the project’s Boston premiere.

The new and expanded version of Reprogramming the City: New Opportunities for Urban Infrastructure is an exciting move forward for the project, and establishes an EU-specific version of the exhibition to continue on to other European venues.