Transforming a public place or a hindrance of a space into something that is functional and beautiful is a huge undertaking.
Landfills turned into parks, overcrowded areas returned to pedestrians, and entire streets hidden by amazing landscapes are among some of the most amazing public area transformations we can highlight.
Be sure to check out the horrible “swamp” in Detroit, Michigan that was turned into a beautiful public park, alongside a newly renovated building that was once in disrepair.
Noordwal, The Hague, Netherlands
Transforming a busy square into a green space is easy. Adding a waterway and access for smaller boats is something completely different.
In 2008, this location at Noordwal, The Huage, Netherlands was a boring space. In the period of 7 years, city officials transformed the location in a pretty amazing way.
Ferenciek tere, Budapest, Hungary
It’s really amazing what kind of transformation can be achieved with just a little cosmetic surgery.
Engineers in Ferenciek tere tore down some ugly walls, added some greenery, and allowed business owners to set up outdoor cafes.
An ugly space was transformed into something beautiful.
Rue St-Hubert, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Sometimes you can transform an area by hiding certain elements. For example, in Quebec parking spaces were accented by seating areas for local restaurants.
Trees were added to the area and the street was newly paved.
It’s amazing how easily an area can be transformed.
Dutch Kills Green, Queens, New York, US
New York City is constantly reinventing itself in amazing ways and there is no better proof than Dutch Kills Green.
Parking spaces were removed, pops of green have been highlighted, and new streetlights now accent the area.
Train structures were also painted green to give them a fresh new look.
Suwon, South Korea
This city street transformation in Suwon, South Korea, shows what can be accomplished when emphasis is placed on people and not vehicles. The entire street was turned into a beautiful park with an eye-catching stream right down the center.
Bigger cities have been focused in recent years on adding green, people-friendly areas that are more inviting for residents and tourists.
Hiriya Landfill/Ayalon Park, Israel
In 1998 the Israeli government closed the Hiriya Landfill. Engineers then began to stabilize and reinforce the giant hill of covered waste with salvaged concrete debris from other construction projects.
Then in 2004, the government announced a contest to rehabilitate the area. Renowned landscape architect Peter Latz designated a beautiful pergola and scenic vista on the west tip of the mountain.
This part of the park provides the highest vantage point for viewing Tel Aviv and the Mediterranean Sea.
Sai Tso Wan, Hong Kong
There unfortunately wasn’t a “before” picture available for this location, but as you can imagine it looked like pretty much every other landfill in need of a face lift.
Sai Tso Wan’s multipurpose playground was built on an old landfill in Hong Kong. It has since become one of the greenest areas in the region.
The park was built with wind turbines, solar panels, recycled rubber mulch, and rainwater irrigation systems.
The space is now so beautiful that it’s used by the Hong Kong Baseball Association as their official training grounds.
Tempelhof Park, Berlin
Tempelhof Park in Berlin was one of Europe’s three largest pre-WW2 airports. It was eventually used by the Nazi government during the war and became the main hub for American aircraft during the Cold War.
In 2010, the airport received a beautiful makeover when it was turned into a multi-use public space and renamed Tempelhofer Feld.
The park is so big that Central Park in New York City could fit inside it.
Locals have installed communal gardens with flowers and vegetables, and barbecuing is popular in the park these days.
Bukit Tagar Landfill, Malaysia
Unlike the other landfills on this list, Bukit Tagar is still a working facility.
The landfill features state of the art facilities combined with natural elements.
It also features reed beds to help absorb leachate which makes natural purification more efficient. Many different varieties of tropical birds now live on top of the landfill.
It’s not the prettiest of the locations on this list, but it’s definitely a unique way to dispose of waste while providing for a nature sanctuary.
Bastion Theresia Timisoara, Romania
The Theresia Bastion was the very first of nine Vauban-style bastions that defended Timisoara and it was built in 1738.
The Bastion is on the country’s list of protected national monuments, which presented a difficult situation when reinvigorating the location.
The building’s rooftop was turned into one of the most stunning rooftop gardens in the world.
The area around the Bastion was also transformed into a modern plaza and assembly room, accented by brick and timber buildings and vaulted masonry walls.
Qiaoyuan Park, China
Qiaoyuan Park was once a toxic dump, but today it has been turned into a low-maintenance green space.
The architect that built the space choice regenerative landscaping with an emphasis on vegetation and biodiversity.
New York City – Times Square
If you have only seen Times Square in movies and on TV shows you might not realize how much the area has actually changed in recent years.
While Times Square used to be comprised only of small sidewalks with wider streets, it now features much larger areas that have been closed off to traffic.
The new design has made Times Square much more people-friendly, which was needed because of foot traffic increases as tourists flood to the area.
Klyde Warren Park, Dallas, Texas, US
It’s amazing how removing a lot of concrete and creating green space “out of thin area,” as the city proclaims, can make for a people friendly space.
Hiding the traffic that still moves through the area was a huge undertaking but now the new park is visited by hundreds of thousands of people every single year.
There are picnic areas, a water play area, and other people friendly features that were simply not an option with the former space.
Griffith Park Boulevard, Los Angeles, California, US
This is another prime example of reclaiming an area for pedestrians while adding new green space to a rundown location.
There is still ample parking at Griffith Park Boulevard, which is great for businesses, but now pedestrians can also spread out and enjoy the area.
Amsterdamstraat, Antwerp, Belgium
Wide open areas that represent a concrete jungle are not pleasing to the eye and they are not functional for pedestrians.
Architects in Amsterdamstraat chose to “close off” the area by adding grass, trees, and a bike path.
Sometimes beauty is in simplicity, as we can see from this amazing public area transformation.
Place des Jacobins, Lyon, France
A public space can be fabulously transformed by adding in areas of socialization that give a feeling of permanence.
In Place des Jacobins, Lyon, France, architects removed areas of public street and replaced them with a public gathering space.
In this redesign there is still plenty of space for vehicles to travel around the square while allowing for everyday use by pedestrians.
Atwater Street, Detroit, Michigan, US
We hear a lot of bad stories about Detroit, Michigan, but in 2014 a swamp area was transformed into a beautiful park.
The building next to the park was also transformed.
It’s amazing what kind of beauty we can find in even the most rundown areas when the right plan is put into action.
Csarnok Ter, Budapest, Hungary
Not every transformation requires more area for pedestrians to walk and relax.
In Csarnok Ter, Budapest, a city street was given a hint of green, but the real achievement was removing some of the overcrowded parking areas around the center.
Creating a better flow of traffic really helps keep this area looking less claustrophobic.
Rue Garibaldi, Lyon, France
This is another great example of tearing down barriers and opening up an area can make it less claustrophobic.
Pedestrians are given better access to the amenities and drivers can actually see which businesses surround the area.
There is also now easier access to public transportation.
Chateau d’Eau, Bordeaux, France
Now there’s a public gathering place and a flow of traffic that makes more sense to drivers. This is a common theme among some of the most gorgeous redesigns we have seen.
If you want to give your city an uplift, this is a simple and inexpensive option.