7 Inspiring Placemaking Projects That Transformed Communities

7 Inspiring Placemaking Projects That Transformed Communities

In the heart of every community lies the potential for transformation, a spark that, when ignited, can turn the ordinary into the extraordinary. This is the essence of placemaking, a process that reimagines public spaces to strengthen the connection between people and the places they share. 

Placemaking projects not only revitalize physical spaces but also foster community engagement, enhance local culture, and promote sustainability. Through creative vision and collective effort, ordinary spaces become extraordinary places that pulse with life, history, and connectivity. 

Today, we’ll embark on a journey through seven inspiring placemaking projects that have reshaped communities and left lasting imprints on the hearts of those who inhabit them. Let’s begin, shall we?

1. High Line, New York City, USA

Nestled above the bustling streets of Manhattan, the High Line stands as a beacon of urban rejuvenation. This elevated park, born from the remnants of a disused railway track, stretches over 1.45 miles through the West Side. 

The transformation began in 2009, turning a once-forgotten structure into a green oasis amidst the concrete jungle. The High Line is more than just a park; it’s a stage for art, a haven for nature, and a catalyst for neighborhood revitalization. 

It has spurred economic development, with new businesses and real estate ventures flourishing in its wake. Visitors are treated to a unique blend of modern architecture, wild landscapes, and panoramic views of the city and Hudson River, making it a cherished urban retreat.

2. Superkilen, Copenhagen, Denmark

Superkilen is a kaleidoscope of culture and creativity located in the heart of Copenhagen’s Nørrebro district. This urban park is divided into three main areas, each with its distinct character: The Red Square, The Black Market, and The Green Park. 

Opened to the public in 2012, Superkilen celebrates diversity, featuring over 100 objects from more than 60 different countries. From Moroccan fountains to Russian neon signs, each element tells the story of the area’s international residents. 

The park is not just a place for relaxation and recreation; it’s a living exhibition of global culture and inclusivity, encouraging community interaction and understanding.

3. The Goods Line, Sydney, Australia

Inspired by the High Line in New York, The Goods Line in Sydney is a testament to the power of adaptive reuse. 

What was once an industrial railway line has been transformed into a vibrant urban corridor, connecting the Railway Square area with the Darling Harbour. This public space blends nature with infrastructure, featuring a walking and cycling path, study pods, and public art installations. 

Since its opening in 2015, The Goods Line has become a social spine for Sydney, encouraging innovation and collaboration among its universities, cultural institutions, and creative industries. It’s a place where history meets modernity, fostering a sense of community in the heart of the city.

4. Cheonggyecheon Stream Restoration, Seoul, South Korea

The Cheonggyecheon Stream is a symbol of resilience and renewal in Seoul. This 10.9-kilometer-long public recreation space was once buried under concrete and an elevated highway. 

In 2005, after extensive restoration efforts, the stream was brought back to life, offering a peaceful refuge in the bustling city. The project has improved urban climate, water quality, and biodiversity, while also becoming a popular pedestrian thoroughfare. 

The Cheonggyecheon Stream is a reminder of nature’s capacity to heal and thrive in urban environments, bringing people closer to their cultural heritage and natural surroundings.

5. Mercado de la Cosecha, Galicia, Spain

The Mercado de la Cosecha in Galicia represents a bold initiative to revitalize rural communities through sustainable development. 

This project supports local producers, promotes Galician culture, and encourages social responsibility. It’s a platform for small-scale farmers and artisans to showcase their products, from organic foods to traditional crafts, fostering economic growth and community pride. 

The Mercado de la Cosecha is more than a market; it’s a movement toward a more sustainable and equitable future, where rural values and innovation go hand in hand.

6. Pavement to Parks, San Francisco, USA

Pavement to Parks is an innovative program launched by San Francisco to reclaim underused areas of concrete and asphalt and transform them into vibrant community spaces. 

This initiative, kicking off in 2009, has successfully converted parking spots, intersections, and excess roadways into pedestrian-friendly plazas and mini-parks, enriching urban life. Each project under Pavement to Parks is designed to reflect the unique character and needs of its neighborhood, bringing greenery, seating, and art into spaces once dominated by vehicles.

The program stands out for its adaptability and community focus. Starting as temporary installations, these projects allow the city and its residents to experiment with public spaces in a flexible, low-commitment manner. 

This approach has led to the permanent adoption of many successful sites, proving the initiative’s effectiveness in enhancing urban environments. Pavement to Parks showcases a scalable model for urban renewal, emphasizing the importance of public participation and innovative urban planning in creating more livable, engaging cityscapes.

7. Tempelhofer Feld, Berlin, Germany

Tempelhofer Feld in Berlin is a grand experiment in urban open space. Once the site of Tempelhof Airport, this vast area was repurposed into one of the city’s largest and most unique parks. The community played a crucial role in deciding the park’s fate, voting to keep it as a public space. 

Today, Tempelhofer Feld is a recreational paradise, offering activities from gardening and picnicking to biking and kite flying. It stands as a model for participatory urban planning, demonstrating how communal spaces can cater to diverse needs and interests.


Placemaking projects have the transformative power to turn underutilized spaces into vibrant, thriving communities. Each project, with its unique approach and challenges, tells a story of innovation, collaboration, and resilience. 

These spaces invite us to reimagine our relationship with our cities and each other. Also, they remind us that at the heart of every urban development should be a place that people can call their own; a place that feels like home. 

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Building Communities

About Phil Myrick

Phil Myrick is an advisor to planning and development projects around the world and former CEO of Project for Public Spaces. Phil applies research into how people interact with their environments and each other to create vibrant places, destinations, districts, and developments. His strategic advice has helped his clients achieve their goals of attracting people, engaging people in their community, strengthening connections and social fabric, and stimulating economic development. Phil is married with two teenagers and struggles to satisfy his passion for being outdoors or on the water. https://philmyrick.com

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