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Cool Idea To Bring Depressed Urban Areas Back To Life: Artfarms
December 1, 2012
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There's a lot of empty space on the east side of Buffalo, New York.

About 20 per cent of the land is unused, thanks to a depressed economy and an infrastructure that was built for a lot more people, back when Buffalo was a thriving manufacturing centre.

So, why is empty space a problem?

Well, all that unused land gives the impression of neglect and makes the neighbourhood unattractive to potential residents. It also discourages people from opening small businesses, creating even less incentive to live there.

According to a new project called 'Artfarms,' all that urban vacancy "feeds negative perceptions that discourage the city's redevelopment."

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What's the solution? Well, Artfarms (which came out of a think tank organized by architect David Lage) wants to use that land for large-scale art installations that double as, yes, urban farms.

Artfarms hopes that installing beautiful sculptures - which are also miniature farms - will attract people to live in the area, as well as revitalizing it for people who live there now.

Long term, Artfarms wants to change people's perceptions of Buffalo's east side, and encourage more people to live and open businesses there, creating a thriving small town within the urban environment.

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Once the Artfarms sculptures are in place, Lage believes, "it makes it possible for other small redevelopment to happen. Suddenly someone can open up a shop, or a café, bookstore.

"As more sculptures get planted, it gets more of a reputation and more people come to see it."

Artfarms is working with the Department of Visual Studies at the University of Buffalo and urban farming organizations to make the idea a reality.

The plans for the sculptures are already finished, and now Artfarms is looking for funding to get the installations in place by next spring.

artfarms-billboard.jpg

Lage was inspired by Lusatia, a region in Germany where the landscape was devastated by decades of coal mining.

artfarms-germany-1.jpg

The local council gathered a group of politicians, artists, business people and families, and together they decided to create an artificial lake.

artfarms-germany-2.jpg

The decision changed the landscape, and revitalized the town's economy, bringing new people to the area and paving the way for cafes, hotels, shops, and other developments.

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