Urban Reuse and Repurposing Book: Reprogramming the City [PRINT]

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A 214-page collection of over 40 examples of urban reuse 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 magazine

Reprogramming the City shows how people are making cities more livable and resilient through urban reuse by using existing urban objects in new ways. 214 pages with over 300 color photos and illustrations.


INTERNATIONAL BUYERS: To avoid excessive shipping costs, a PDF version is available of both the book and toolkit, as well as an e-book version.


A 214-page collection of over 40 examples of urban reuse from 17 countries.

“This book shows the incredible transformation of what was once seen as basic urban infrastructure into social spaces and community assets.” – Isabel Zempel, Sasaki, ASLA

Reprogramming the City is an overview urban reuse and repurposing – innovative ways existing urban infrastructure and other elements are being reused and repurposed for new use in cities around the world. From billboards in Lima, Peru, that now generate fresh drinking water to bus stops in northern Sweden transformed to boost the mental health of commuters during dark winter months, Reprogramming the City reveals the untapped potential of tactical urbanism and repurposing urban objects for new use to improve life for urban residents.

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

As the introduction to the book states:

Cities have long believed in abundance: more materials to use, more resources to consume, more land to develop—more of everything, available as needed. 

Abundance is an outdated belief, no longer sustainable nor realistic. 

The new urban reality is one of limited resources. Whether spatial, financial, or material, the assets available to cities are finite. A sustainable future requires a new spirit of resourcefulness to shift attitudes from using more to doing more with the resources at hand. For while the content of cities may be finite, the context of how we use that content will transform cities from limited palettes of resources into platforms of possibility. Reprogramming the City reveals new contexts of use for existing urban content. 

For two decades, I have worked, researched, and circled the globe, twice, to demonstrate and document how resourcefulness can reinvent urban landscapes by unlocking the potential stored in its physical elements. What started with my own work repurposing existing urban assets for additional use in Italy, the UK, the Netherlands, the US, and other countries, eventually became a global pursuit to discover the most innovative and transformative examples of repurposing and reprogramming urban elements around the world. This book is the result of that pursuit.

The book includes the following projects:


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 Adaptive Reuse of 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 urban reuse to clean and cool 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 Tile | 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 Urban Reuse of 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 Urban Reuse to convert 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 | Umeå, Sweden Improving commuter mental health by replacing bus stop lights with light therapy tubes

Lampbrella | Saint Petersburg, urban reuse, transforming street lights into rain-activated pop-up umbrellas

The Cascade | Hong Kong Urban Reuse to increase 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 Tactical Urbanism that transforms 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 Urban Reuse to provide mobile sanitation services with repurposed city busses



A1 Charging Booths | Vienna, Austria Adaptive Reuse of 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 Adaptive Reuse of 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 through urban reuse

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

First Class Meal | Los Angeles, USA Adaptive Reuse of abandoned and underused postal facilities for community food services

Additional information

Weight 16 oz
Dimensions 11 × 9 × .5 in

Reprogramming the City

1 review for Urban Reuse and Repurposing Book: Reprogramming the City [PRINT]

  1. Maria Xose

    An amazing collection of examples showing what a difference repurposing can make. I particularly like the layout showing the original urban object on the left, with its repurposed new life on the right. A very visual, easy read, that carries an incredibly important message.

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