EU Project ReCITYing (2024-2028)
Description Reactivating unused urban spaces through architecture and arts
EU Call Creative Europe Programme
Total Funding € 695,000.00
IAAC Department Urban Sciences Lab
Partners UNIGE, University of Genoa, Department Architecture and Design
IAAC, Institute of Advanced Architecture of Catalonia
LUH, Leibniz Universität Hannover, Institute of Urban Design and Planning
UGM, Umetnostna Galerija Maribor
CMP, Champ Libre Montpellier
Website (to be launched in May 2024)

ReCITYing is a project co-founded by Creative Europe Programme of European Union with the aim to promote the regeneration of unused, closed or private urban spaces and buildings into artistic laboratories open to the city and cultural incubators. The project intends to leverage the creative potentials of architecture and arts in order to foster social inclusion, accessibility and contributing to the spread of a culture of sustainability. Aimed at young creatives and professionals from architecture, design and arts, policymakers and local social enterprises, ReCITYing creates a networking platform and exchange on temporary reuse practices to define co-creation of spaces from a European perspective.


Diffusion of an urban recycling culture through design-oriented practices

Permanence is commonly interpreted as a primary value of architecture, to guarantee the continuity of human activity. However, there is no built structure that has not been transformed over time, when new cycles of production and (re)appropriation of spaces create openings that allow ephemeral practices to emerge, giving new values and significance to urban leftovers while waiting for a permanent occupation.

For Lefebvre, appropriation is a function of lived space, whereas the imagination seeks to change it. Lived space is a place of passion where the user/community encounters resistance, which inevitably involves conscious action and struggle. How then temporary reuse practices can foster processes of urban reappropriation and regeneration strategies of residual spaces in the city?


Against this backdrop, ReCITYing has the ambition to create a platform for knowledge creation and exchange of experiences on temporary reuse practices to define co-creation of spaces from a European perspective. Temporary reuse, in this way, represents both an operative tool and a shared method to contribute European vision on knowledge creation as well as on transnational circulation and skills exchange between design professionals and performative artists working with local communities. Temporary reuse is multifold and site-specific with a strong necessity of social engagement, audience development and communication. It’s an adaptive approach which has been explored in several domains, according to different narratives, logics and performances to be re-produced in place. The project actively involves targeted professionals coming from the field of architecture, arts, design and urban planning by fostering talents and enhance their professional development capacities according to three major skills training:

  1. the need to better analyse, survey and evaluate risks/values and the state of conservation of architecture and unused urban areas (private/public);
  2. the need to respond to the current European societal challenges, especially related to gender equality, territorial justice, integration of minorities, different cultural habits, as well as providing accessibility to places redeveloped by and for the community;
  3. the possibility to empower young creatives and professionals coming from different fields of expertise of co-design principles, to reinforce maturity in research-by-design practices.


4 pilot cases _ 4 Cities

ReCITYing aims to consolidate “Temporary Reuse” methods applied to urban vacant space and underused heritage through an innovative contribution to urban regeneration, by combining creative co-design strategies, addressing the call Objective 1. Transnational creation and circulation of practical knowledge and professional skills in recycling architecture and unused space in 4 Partner Cities (Genoa, Barcelona, Hannover, Maribor) and other 4 Hosting Cities (Lublin, Umeå, Tallinn, Timi?oara) facilitating transnational distribution of content and international mobility of professionals, researchers, and artists.

The choice of partner cities has been made on two criteria: (1) the presence of buildings/spaces partially or totally abandoned for long periods before stakeholders manifest the interest in re-appropriation (2) the presence of a significant vacant stock/areas within or in the immediate proximity of the urban context. It follows a synthetic overview of vacancy-related evidence to draw the exploration of the 4 pilot cases:

Genova, IT > abandoned public complexes / heritage buildings: according to estimates by the Italian State property Agency (OpenDemanio), more than 110,000 architectural artefacts in Italy, enlisted by MIBAC, are in a state of decay or vacancy. This category includes specifically significant historic buildings and large public structures. In Genoa, the heritage vacancy ratio in the metropolitan core areas accounts for 4.350.000 sq.m. Most of the 27 transformation areas are characterised by complex heritage buildings, partially dismissed or non-accessible to the public. In this frame, the Albergo dei Poveri (founded in the mid-17th century; total area: 60.000 sq.m.) represents a significant case of urban abandonment, after ceasing its original social assistance and recovery function for poor citizens. Since 1991 UniGe has been the promoter of its partial requalification with the introduction of the Departments of Law and Political Sciences, new facilities for students, libraries and classrooms, even if other two wings of the complex remain abandoned without specific functional programmes.

Barcelona, ES > rural heritage vacancy / rural voids: the metropolitan area of Barcelona is highly densified, and it is just through the most recent urban transformation projects, such as 22@Barcelona project, the Forum/Expo Area, the Super Barrio project, that tried to reinvent itself in a strong dichotomy between the modernist urbanisation model of the Ensanche and the rural suburbanization trends. Against this the Parc Agrari de Llobregat describes a territory of rural enclaves, one of the oldest and most fertile agricultural lands of Spain (encompassed between 14 municipalities). Created in 1998 to stop urban sprawl advancement, the Parc Agrari today is also subject to processes of rural abandonment resulting in land deprivation, loss in production biodiversity, dwindling of historical villas and old farmsteads (Masias) presence.

Hannover, DE > unused industrial archaeology / brownfields: since 1928, out of the Ruhr-Rhine area, Hannover region has been one of the most prominent industrial centres of Northern Germany. At that time the Mittelland Kanal (inland waterway connection of Ems-Leine-Elbe rivers) was opened and the Lindener Hafen was built to support industrialisation. Due to its specialisation in chemicals, vehicles and tyres sectors, Hanover and its historical industries (Volkswagen, Continental, Bahlsen) was the target of numerous air raids during WWII. During the 1960s particular attention was paid to the growing traffic needs (CityRing). This new infrastructure scheme, by shifting goods traffic to motorways, resulted in the downsizing of Lindener Hafen with consequent abandonment of structures. Today the port area is characterised by a diverse density of industrial zoning with still 50 operating companies (3.000 employees) on an area of 70 ha. The challenge is how short-term strategic visions can support district productive vocation while making it open to citizen/stakeholders participation, care and co-creation?

Maribor, SI > historical housing / building stock vacancy: problems associated with housing heritage in Western Europe are emerging in Slovenia, especially when connected to high turnover in the former Yugoslavia. After the national independence of Slovenia, a process of privatisation of public housing stock was introduced. Current housing needs are particularly evident in cities such Maribor where the old mediaeval centre just partially compensate for the sprawl condition of urban peripheries. Today there are 175.000 dwellings in Slovenia (equal to 37.3%) offered for sale/rental or without specific assignment. In Maribor there are 12,500 vacant dwellings to be reassigned or transformed. Against this, Gosposka street, the main pedestrian street in Maribor suffers from scattered vacancy both in the upper housing structure as well as in the ground shop level, due to relocations of stores in peripheral shopping malls. Creative reinvention, recycling and innovation through arts could represent an immediate response to raise social awareness on these trends and promote policy supply for temporary reuse strategy and micro-design actions.

Image References: 01, 02. Industries of Nature – by Alejandro Haiek Coll (reCITYing guest artist) | WOJR / Civitella Ranieri Architecture Prize); 03, 04. ReCITYing diagrams.


This project has received funding from the European Union’s Creative Europe programme under the project number 101132146.

Co-funded by the Creative Europe Programme of the European Union