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Creating new uses for forgotten public spaces

As the world evolves we are often left with legacy public infrastructure that is no longer useful to the community in the way it were original designed - e.g. public phone booths. How might we repurpose such spaces to better benefit the community?

Photo of Philip Man
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"If any disused fixture of city streets cried out for repurposing, it would seem to be the pay phone"  

So John H. Locke, an architectural designer from NY has been turning underused pay phones into community bookshelves, where people can borrow & return books much like a public library, in an attempt to make the ubiquitous structures relevant in the community again. 

What's more, the city's Department of IT and Telecommunications is considering the public's suggestions about how best to repurpose the 13,000 remaining phone booths across the city. Suggestions include turning them into touch-screen neighbourhood maps; converting them into charging stations for mobile devices or electric cars; or using them as dispensers for hand sanitizer. 

How might we inspire people to look out for other forgotten public spaces within their communities and contribute ideas to how they could be repurposed (or simply be enabled to do so)?


Join the conversation:

Photo of Pedro Luís

Very interesting!

Photo of Ian Wyosnick

I love this inspiration! I'm a sucker for repurposing, especially in ways that benefit knowledge and community.

Photo of T. Annie Nguyen

Great inspiration! I've seen old magazine/newspaper vending machines repurposed for books as well, but really like how phone booths can be converted into usable stations for the public.

Photo of Meena Kadri

Fab provocation, Philip – and we're loving having folks like you joining the challenge from on the ground in Singapore!

Photo of Meena Kadri

I also enjoyed reading further details on the NYT post: Perhaps you might add that link directly to your post in case folks want to easily check out more? Tip: to activate links in your post, hit the Update Entry button up there on the right, then follow the instructions here:

Photo of Arjan Tupan

Oh, that's a brilliant idea for old phone booths: a public library.
Great idea to bring repurposing into this challenge this way.