No. 1 (2023): WASTELANDS. Recycling urban spaces for the shrinking city

WASTELANDS. Recycling urban spaces for the shrinking city

Federico Camerin
Universidad UVA de Valladolid - Universidad Politécnica de Madrid
Francesco Gastaldi
Università Iuav di Venezia

Published 2023-09-12


  • Polycrises,
  • Urban regeneration,
  • Governance,
  • Obsolescence,
  • post-institutional properties

How to Cite

Camerin, F., & Gastaldi, F. (2023). WASTELANDS. Recycling urban spaces for the shrinking city . Contesti. Città, Territori, Progetti, (1), 5–13.


Shrinkage processes are multidimensional phenomena affecting city sectors or regions that are experiencing a decline in their economic and social foundations and struggle in finding sound postindustrial revitalisation strategies. The symptoms of such structural crisis are population loss and ageing, economic recession, employment decline and social problems. The repeated international crises that followed the global economic, productive and cultural changes since the 1980s have resulted in the formation of neglected, underused and decay urban voids. The current abandonment scenario and related transformation opportunities are extremely complex and include a wide variety of typologically different wastelands. They comprise shrinking urban and peripheral fabrics, specific empty or obsolete infrastructure, derelict sites, and voids of with heritage value no longer animated by the socio-cultural “regime” that originated them. Wastelands are not unusual in Western society but their pervasiveness is certainly unprecedented given the general socioeconomic crises and dynamics. Abandonment is a challenging and constant process of space production to be filled with new functions by civil society. The re-cycle is even more challenging because the disposal of significant assets has occurred within a limited time frame compared to the post-industrial wastelands. Wastelands constitute a resource with relevant strategic opportunities for addressing a variety of issues – i.e., reducing land consumption, providing urban maintenance and rehabilitation, and increasing the supply of public open spaces, environmental quality characteristics, community standards and services. Last but not least, wastelands may provide new habitable and accessible spaces in contrast to various types of emergencies or polycrises the society is facing – i.e. climate, pandemics, territorial imbalances, ecological and energy resources impoverishment – thus addressing the transition scenario.


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