The Future of Brownfields

One of the major challenges in post-industrial areas is how to work with the patchwork of underutilized land, or Brownfields, that are compromising the well-being of their surrounding residents and the local environment. While many see Brownfields as a liability, a few others recognize that with the proper approach, Brownfields can become an asset for regenerating a territory.

The Future of Brownfields was a three-year initiative focused on creating new strategies for more sustainable and equitable regional redevelopment (see reports below), prototyping flexible infrastructures, and runĀ micro-pilots and further conceptualization.

The team explored brownfield redevelopment as a critical path for restoring local economies in the Calumet Region, a 900 square-mile bi-state area at the heart of the Midwestern US. By understanding the flows of resources, underutilized assets, and the dynamics of the multiple systems shaping livelihoods in the region, the team proposed five different strategies for its redevelopment: leverage available assets, involve residents, empower science, strengthen local economy, and build integrated infrastructure. Four concepts were developed in response to these strategies that were further prototyped in the next phases: Act Calumet, Flag Calumet, Value Calumet, and Mini Calumet.

This work also led to the article: Expanding perceptions of the circular economy through design: Eight capitals as innovation lenses

Contextual Report

Design Brief