Reprogramming the City: Adaptive Reuse and Repurposing Urban Objects
44 of the most innovative adaptive urban reuse and repurposing projects from 17 countries
44 innovative adaptive urban reuse and repurposing projects from 17 countries

“A hopeful anthology of solutions for our hot, crowded planet. Anyone reading Scott Burnham’s essential book will emerge reassured by the transformative power of creativity in the world’s urban centers.”

– Renée Loth, AchitectureBoston

“This book teaches us the possibilities of re-connecting the cities and the citizens through innovative solutions instigated by the people who best know the needs.”

– Dr. Atsushi Deguchi, University of Tokyo

Reprogramming the City reveals how cities around the world are employing adaptive reuse by reimagining and repurposing existing urban assets to benefit residents by doing more with what cities already have.

Light Therapy from Umea, Sweden: Repurposing the city’s bus stops as light therapy stations.

Reprogramming the City features over 40 richly-illustrated adaptive reuse and repurposing projects from numerous cities across 17 countries. The book offers an unparalleled collection of real-world examples of how existing urban elements are being reimagined to perform alternate functions, or assume entirely new roles in the city.

Hong Kong stairway that now doubles as a mini urban park with The Cascade.

Organized into the thematic chapters of Food and Water, Shelter and Housing, Health and Wellbeing, Energy and Ecology and Renewal and Recovery, this book shows how the full range of human needs and achievement can be realized from the assets cities already have in place.

Reprogramming the City features:

  • 44 projects from 17 countries
  • 214 pages with over 300 color photographs and illustrations
  • A new paradigm of urban creativity that designs with the city, not for it.

Projects featured in Reprogramming the City include:


Water Billboard | Lima, Peru
Repurposing a billboard to produce fresh drinking water for local residents

Air Orchard | Lima, Peru
Growing pollution free produce with a water billboard-fed irrigation system

Borneo Project | Montreal, Canada
Converting fire hydrants into public drinking fountains

LA20 | Los Angeles, USA
Repurposing concrete river viaducts into farming and desalinating water systems

BuzzBuilding | Stockholm, Sweden
Reimagining traffic roundabouts as food production and growing areas

Growing Underground | London, UK
Producing local food in abandoned subway tunnels beneath stores and restaurants

Fenway Farms | Boston, USA
Converting disused areas of the iconic baseball park into an urban farm

T5 Farm | New York, USA
Growing air-to-table food at JFK’s Depature Terminal

Kääntöpöytä | Helsinki, Finland
Rejuvenating an abandoned train turntable into organic food hub

GroCycle Urban Mushroom Farm | Exeter, UK
Converting abandoned office space and spent coffee grounds into a mushroom farming business


Culture Urbaine | Geneva, Switzerland
Repurposing a motorway bridge into a CO2-eating, fuel-producing unit

SolaRoad | Krommenie, NL
Transforming roads and bike paths into energy-producing surfaces

Pavegen | London, UK
Reducing the city’s energy footprint by generating power from pedestrian footsteps

LucidPipe | Portland, USA
Generating hydro power from water flowing through under city streets

Open Air | Los Angeles, USA
Cleaning and cooling urban air by replacing billboard advertising units with bamboo forests

Energy Column | Minneapolis, USA
Using building height and waste energy to produce power onsite

Climate Tiles | Copenhagen, Denmark
Increasing the functionality of sidewalk tiles to utilize water and prevent flooding

Kungsbrohuset | Stockholm, Sweden
Harnessing the energy generated by commuters to heat buildings


Grünerløkka Studenthus | Oslo, Norway
Transforming industrial grain silos into student housing

HAWSE | London, UK
Converting abandoned parking units into housing for recently homeless individuals

paraSITE | Cambridge, USA
Using building HVAC vents inflate and warm pop-up homeless shelters

LIFT | Honolulu, USA
Converting disused pubic transportation buses into homeless shelters and service units

LOL | London, UK
Reimagining Victorian train viaducts as affordable housing units

Arcade Providence | Providence, USA
Converting America’s first enclosed mall into a model for micro housing

SCADPad | Atlanta, USA
Using underused parking garages as adaptive housing units

The Billboard House | Mexico City, Mexico
Creating an agile housing unit from a billboard structure


Ljusterapi Light Therapy Bus Shelters | Umeå, Sweden
Improving commuter mental health by replacing bus stop lights with light therapy tubes

Lampbrella | Saint Petersburg, Russia
Transforming street lights into rain-activated pop-up umbrellas

The Cascade | Hong Kong
Increasing the functionality of an urban stairway with a micro park for relaxation and social gatherings

Lido Line | London, UK
Proposing a commuter swimming line as future use for abandoned industrial canals

Soft Walks | New York, USA
Bolt-on seating and dining areas to repurpose New York’s scaffolding sidewalk sheds

La Grande Cantine | Paris, France
Transforming cement waterfront stairs into picnic areas and social spaces

Marsupial Bridge | Milwaukee, USA
Reusing legacy infrastructure to support green transportation and community life

Lava Mae | San Francisco, USA
Providing mobile sanitation services with repurposed city busses


A1 Charging Booths | Vienna, Austria
Reviving underused public payphone booths as electronic car charging stations

EV Charging Call Box | Baltimore, USA
Converting old urban call boxes into Electric Vehicle charging stations

Under the Bridge | Stockholm, Sweden
Finding opportunity for new pedestrian use and cultural spaces in an underused bridge

Goedzak | Amsterdam, NL
Augmenting the city’s trash collection systems with a free cycling system for unwanted goods

City Tickets | Boston, USA
Reprogramming multi-space parking pay machines into fault-reporting and public suggestion units

(IN)spires | London, UK
Converting disused church spires into studios and creative industry incubators

Urban Mining | Norrköping, Sweden
Recovering and recycling metals from outdated infrastructure beneath the city

The Park-Ing | Tokyo, Japan
Designing studios, galleries and retail spaces into an underused parking garage

Vegan Lippakioski | Helsinki, Finland
Upgrading an unused historic food kiosk into a collective-run vegan cafe

First Class Meal | Los Angeles, USA
Leveraging the potential of abandoned and underused postal facilities for community food services