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Competition: Reinventing Cities

East Garfield Park, Chicago
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An unprecedented international contest has been launched to sustainably regenerate 45 brownfield sites across 15 of the world’s greatest cities

Open to multidisciplinary teams of architects, developers, environmentalists and artists, the two-stage competition seeks innovative proposals for new carbon-free and resilient developments on a range of dense city centre sites.

The project, backed by C40 Cities and inspired by the city-wide Reinvent Paris contest, will transform a wide variety of sites including empty plots, abandoned buildings, a former airport, underused car parks and an abandoned incinerator. Participating cities include Auckland, Cape Town, Chicago, Houston, Lima, Madrid, Milan, Mexico City, Oslo, Paris, Quito, Reykjavik, Rio de Janeiro, Salvador and San Francisco.

Announcing the contest, C40 chair and mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo said: ‘Think local, act global is the 21st-century state of mind. By launching this global competition, we make this philosophy very concrete celebrating the most vibrant innovative solutions to environmental challenges.

‘Reinventing Cities will set new standards of sustainability in cities, and who better than our citizens to imagine the future of their cities? I am convinced that the winning projects will surprise us all and present innovations we are unable to imagine today.’

C40 Cities is a network of major cities representing more than 650 million people and one quarter of the global economy. The campaign group focuses on tackling climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and climate risks in urban settings, while increasing the health, wellbeing and economic opportunities of local residents.

The latest competition has been inspired by the ongoing Reinvent Paris initiative which this year sought ‘open, vibrant and radiant’ proposals for a 150,000m² swathe of subterranean sites across the French capital.

David Chipperfield and Sou Fujimoto were among the winners of the first Reinvent Paris in 2016 which sought proposals for a range of buildings include the landmark Immeuble Morland office which backs onto the River Seine.


Reinventing Cities aims to deliver a series of flagship schemes which act as beacons of future urban sustainability and resiliency. Applications will be judged on their innovation and ability to harness ‘striking architecture’ and deliver benefits for local communities.

Competition sites include a 1ha civic centre car park in Cape Town; a number of unused plots in East Garfield Park (pictured), Chicago; an abandoned 1,400m² factory in Paris; a 121ha former landfill in Houston; and a 1,880m² municipal market in Madrid.

Between three and five teams will be shortlisted for each site. The overall winners of each contest will enter into legal arrangements with the respective site owners to either purchase, rent or lease back the land needed to develop their scheme.

The deadline for applications is 12am (UTC) on 20 April.

How to apply

Visit the competition website for more information 

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