9 vacant lot projects around the world that inspire us

Pittsburgh isn’t the only city trying to figure out what to do with its vacant lots and vacant spaces. People around the world have been thinking about this issue in their neighborhoods for decades. We decided to take a virtual trip around the world to check out how other cities are turning forgotten spaces into well-loved places! And… just a heads up… there are a few Pittsburgh examples in here too because, well, we’re a little biased!

1. Magic Gardens: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

This immersive art installation was designed and built by Isaiah Zagar over the course of many years. The project, which spans half a block on Philly’s South Street, has transformed several neglected vacant lots into a wonderland of mosaics and found materials that inspire curiosity. Learn more about it here.Philadelphia Magic Gardens

 2. Dance-O-Mat: Christchurch, New Zealand

In 2010, an organization called Gap Filler organized a dance party in one of the city’s vacant lots left from New Zealand’s massive earthquake that September. Using an old washing machine, they made a coin-operated jukebox and created a dance floor for spontaneous dance parties. In its first three months, there were approximately seven hours of dancing per day! Learn more about it here.

inspire vacant lot Dance-O-Mat

 3. Growing Power: Milwaukee, Wisconsin

A forgotten 3-acre garden center on Milwaukee’s north side got a new life when Will Allen decided he was going to grow food there. Allen founded Growing Power, Inc. to build up food security and provide a way for young people to be trained in agriculture. The organization is also known for its innovative methods like vermicomposting and aquaponics, and for the way that it transforms vast, neglected parking lots and massive vacant lots into extremely efficient food-production facilities. Growing Power now has more than 70 projects around the country and the world. Learn more about it here.

inspire vacant lot

4. Manchester Growing Together Farm: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Speaking of growing food, our very own board member and former Ambassador, Lisa Freeman, has been using food to bring people together in her neighborhood of Manchester in Pittsburgh. Using old octagonal shopping mall planters on a once vacant lot, Manchester Growing Together Farm is doing just what its name suggests – growing food and community.

inspire vacant lot Manchester Growing Together Farm

5. Inflatable Traveling Museum: Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico

Imagine a space that’s a vacant lot one day and a complete museum the next. Sounds magical, right? A company called Estudio 3.14 made this dream a reality by creating an inflatable museum to educate youth about the cultural history of their region. Learn more about it here.

inspire vacant lot

6. Randyland: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Randyland is the home of Pittsburgh artist, Randy Gilson. He bought a dilapidated house in 1995 and began using it, and the vacant lots next to it, as a canvas for his colorful artwork. Open to visitors, Randyland is a place that inspires hope. Learn more about it here.

inspire vacant lot Randyland

7. Detroit Dog Park: Detroit, Michigan

Detroit has vacant lots, and Detroit also has dogs without a lot of space to run around. Put two and two together and you get a dog park! Learn more about it here.

inspire vacant lot detroit dog park

8. Gardens of Millvale: Millvale, Pennsylvania

Millvale is a rivertown nestled in the mountains along the Allegheny River. As a town with a history of flooding, neighbors got together to find a way to use vacant land productively while acknowledging the issue of stormwater. They transformed vacant spaces into rain gardens, orchards, and vegetable gardens. Grow Pittsburgh, GTECH, and other organizations helped along the way. Learn more about it here.

Gardens of Millvale inspire

9. Wawa Puklay: Coporaque, Caylloma, Peru

Wawa Puklay, which means “children playing” in Quechua, is a play space made with natural, reclaimed materials. This space stretches beyond the expected limits of a play ground and provides more creative ways for kids to play. Learn more about it here.

wawa inspire vacant

If you’re feeling inspired, visit Lots to Love to learn more about vacant lots in Allegheny County! Also, if you’d like to learn about GTECH’s vacant lot projects, check out our project page. Know of other awesome vacant lot projects around the world? Comment below!

2 thoughts on “9 vacant lot projects around the world that inspire us

  1. WOW , I Just Found This wonderful surprise, Thanks so much for supporting Community Rebuild Projects , People Projects By People Create A Peoplehood , Yep , Love Connects people and Builds Dreams , stop By the Randyland Pittsburgh soon , Peace and Love Randy

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