Call it urban renewal, regeneration, or revitalization. Whatever you name it, the idea that urban development has the intention to improve a space by bringing social change through changing a physical space within a city will help improve social, economic, and health issues in cities globally. While some urban renewal projects aren’t successful, here are five that have transformed city landscapes for the better.

Porto Maravilha in Rio de Janeiro

Since the late ’80s, Porto Maravilha in Rio has experienced a significant decline in development, and as a result, many neighborhoods are in desolation. The city has thought up initiatives and development projects to bring back history to the city, while simultaneously bringing modernity to the city with the goal of improving people’s lifestyles.  

Melbourne Docklands in Melbourne, Australia

The Melbourne Docklands in Australia was an incentive to develop and grow the land in the central city of Melbourne. The Docklands brought shopping, eateries, businesses, parks, entertainment, and more to the city, increasing the economy and local culture of the city.

798 Art Zone in Beijing, China

Before the early 2000s, the Dashanzi area (where the 798 Art Zone now resides), was primarily dedicated to old factories and abandoned businesses. Around 2002, artists and creative individuals began a slow process to buy up the factory spaces and turn them into art galleries, studios, and other creative spaces. This revitalization effort has made the 798 Art Zone famous for its cultural impact.

Civic San Diego, in California

Civic San Diego is an initiative to better the San Diego community culturally, visibly, economically, and globally. The group partners with neighborhoods, groups, companies, and so on, to help them succeed in missions of urban development and improvement. They build parks, improve housing, and stimulate job creation through development efforts.

Discovery Green in Houston, Texas

The Discovery Green in Houston, TX was created in the early 2000s from a partnership between the local municipality and with a non-profit organization, Houston First Corporation and Discovery Green Conservancy. The park was originally two large abandoned parking lots that the city and some local influencers saw fit to turn into a public place. The park now thrives and is a cultural, educational, and city hub for downtown Houston.