Throughout history, the Dutch have been world famous for reclaiming land and space. Most recently, the Dutch have been leaders in incubating space to create new jobs and creative industries for students, artists, entrepreneurs and startups to flourish. There are lots of best practice cases from Amsterdam demonstrating how the Dutch are able to quickly turn derelict properties into more productive and profitable districts. See: Amsterdam Broedplaatsen (creative industry hotbeds)

To help Boston develop a vision and plan to activate vacant City properties, Boston City Council President Andrea Campbell together with Wentworth Institute of Technology (and other local industry leaders) will organize a high-impact event, learn from the Dutch experience, develop a series of strategies that will identify and analyze underutilized or blighted properties in Boston’s Dorchester and Mattapan neighborhoods and develop short-term solutions to address the issue. These solutions are meant to make connections among people, inspire action, showcase what is possible and heal the urban fabric. This Exchange Lab is a 24hrs hands-on workshop using digital tools and strategies of relevant data collection, applying design thinking, and immersion techniques, and rapid prototyping.

Neighborhoods with the highest concentration of vacant properties are in Boston City Councilor Andrea Campbell’s District 4, specifically Dorchester and Mattapan, where many city owned parcels, private parcels, and storefronts have been abandoned over the last 5 to 10 years. In this district alone, local businesses are experiencing a 25% revenue drop due to these vacant storefronts or derelict parcels.

Teams comprised of community leaders, local architectural designers, urban planners, data scientists and entrepreneurs will quickly prototype relevant solutions paving the road to incentivization of investment and ownership, fostering community involvement and documenting/testing suitable pop up solutions.


The hardest hit areas are found in Boston’s District 4 (Mattapan, Dorchester, Roslindale, Jamaica Plain areas) where many city owned parcels, private parcels, and business rentals / storefronts have been abandoned over the last 5 to 10 years. In this district alone, local businesses are experiencing a 25% revenue drop due to these vacant storefronts or derelict parcels.

Click on the property icons to see actual parcels and zoning details.

For more information go to the Zoning Viewer from the Boston Redevelopment Authority


Students design and develop simple, temporary solutions for a real location w/ a viable business plan

Tech & Science

Living Lab – Energy
Clean Tech Sandbox
IoT & Sense-maker lab
parkour and other extreme urban sport parks
Tech flea MKRT
repair cafes
Community Makersmarkt & Makerspaces
3D print building & sculpture lab
Drone Delivery Hive
Fab & Wetlab park
Segway, Self Balancing Unicycle, Hoverboard derbies

Green Concepts

Bike Share Hub
Green Roof-top camping
EV charge cluster
Secret Gardens (DIY horticulture, botanical, medicinal gardens etc)
Neighborhood solar and battery park (energy assistance)
blue roofs showcase
Mais Maze
Animal Shelter trucks
Butterfly Garden Center
Mushroom Farm
Community Chicken Coup Co-Op

Art & Design

Pop-up fashion pavilions
Film, Photo, AR / VR Containers
Tiny Home campus for Students
Drive-in indie film theater
Sculpture park
Video Projection Walls
“Street Art Museum & Graffiti galleries”
Silent discos
Wearable fashion bizzar
Light Festivals
Snow sculpture show

Food & Drink

Pop-up food trucks
Edible roofs
Wasteless dinners
Exotic farmer’s market
CryptoFood labs
Community Performance dinners
Mobile Microbreweries
Slow-cooking & slow tourism
BBQ Pits & Picnics
Beer Garden(s)
Hydro & Aquaponic Restaurants


While Boston’s real-estate market is booming, one of the biggest threats to local businesses and community vitality remains urban blight or as the city of Boston calls it:  “Problem Properties.” The hardest hit areas are found in Boston’s District 4 (Mattapan, Dorchester, Roslindale, Jamaica Plain areas) where many city-owned parcels, private lots, and business rentals / storefronts have been abandoned over the last 5 to 10 years.  In this district alone, local businesses are experiencing a 25% revenue drop due to these vacant storefronts or derelict parcels. Seen as eyesores, public safety hazards, and crime magnets, abandoned houses and properties represent not only a real financial drain but contribute to fragmentation and community isolation.

Boston requires bold new solutions to fix these problem properties for  local residents and businesses.

22-23 March 2019

Sign Up To Waiting List

Thank you for your interest in the City Lab!

At this point, we are at capacity, but encourage you to sign up for the waitlist, in case seats become available. In addition, we will keep you posted of the outcomes of the day and hope to see you at a future City Lab.

Location: Wentworth Institute of Technology

For more information please contact or Tom van Arman +31613703135

22 March

Location: Ira Allen Building

Wentworth Institute Of Technology 540 Parker St, Roxbury, MA

(See on Google Maps)

5:00pm Welcome Council Woman Andrea Cambell will welcome participating teams to event
5:15pm Introduction of District 4 Properties A brief introduction from community leaders about the challenges and characteristics of the area
5:30pm Amsterdam Broedplaatsen Toolkits Case-studies from Andrew McCue about how artists, startups and communities have catalyzed clean tech hot-beds in Amsterdam to inspire teams. He will be offering handy tools to kick start problem properties by applying cutting edge circular economy tools such as “Urban Metabolism Scans” and “Urban Mining Programs”
6:00pm Spelregels “Rules of the game” Tom (CITIXL) will explain the format, goals and guidelines for event
6:30pm Match Making (Team making) Paul(CITIXL)will assit match make the teams consisting of designers, entrepeneurs and community leaders
7:00pm END DAY 1 Final questions and Answers. Teams can take break until Saturday 23 March @8am or continue on!

23 March

Location: Center for Engineering, Innovation and Sciences

Wentworth Institute Of Technology 540 Parker St, Roxbury, MA

(See on Google Maps)

9:00am Doors open (w/ Breakfast)
Development Invites design and business experts from the community will offer additional mentorship and support to teams
12:00pm /// LUNCH BREAK /// Brief growth-hack tips from Martijn Braamhaar (Project Management Bureau) about how artists, startups and communities have successfully intubated thriving locations in Amsterdam to inspire teams
3:00pm Pitch Training (Mandatory) essential presentation training tips to help team perfect their pitch to the expert panel
4:00pm FINAL PITCHES Teams will give 5 pitches + 5 minute feedback from an expert panel comprised of policy makers, developers, & designers who will assess solution based on 1) Originality 2) Economic Viability 3) Social Sustainability 4) Environmental Sustainability
05:00 pm Reception Refreshments & Networking

The Organisers

Tom van Arman
Tom van ArmanCo-Founder CITIXL - Amsterdam
Tom graduated from WIT (B.Arch ’98). Since 2000 he has been living in Amsterdam NL using open data, api’s & IoT solutions to create more social, sustainable & resilient cities. Using agile and lean start-up methodologies, Tapp works with public and private partners to rapid prototype solutions to solve urgent urban problems.
Paul Manwaring
Paul ManwaringCo-Founder CITIXL - Amsterdam
Founder of the IoT Living Lab, Paul is currently focusing on CITXL with Tapp.NL and the City of Amsterdam CTO office to test, distribute and scale community driven Smart City solutions. Using the Living Lab way of working, CITIXL creates positive social impact with citizen engagement around the world.
Anne-Catrin Schultz
Anne-Catrin SchultzAssociate Professor at WIT
After a decade of practicing architecture and teaching in the San Francisco Bay Area, (University of California in Berkeley and the California College of the Arts, City College of San Francisco), Anne-Catrin Schultz dedicated a few years to architecture pedagogy and online education as Assistant Director of the School of Architecture at the Academy of Art University of San Francisco. In the fall 2013 she joined the Department of Architecture at Wentworth Institute of Technology in Boston. Anne-Catrin writes about historic and contemporary tectonics including narratives that go beyond the built environment. More info:
Dr. Monique Fuchs
Dr. Monique FuchsEntrepreneurship and Founder of Accelerate – WIT
Monique is currently Associate Vice President, Innovation + Entrepreneurship at Wentworth Institute of Technology. Monique founded Accelerate, Wentworth Innovation + Entrepreneurship Center in 2012 to create a more relevant model of education and to prepare talent for the ever changing work environment. The center serves a blueprint to evolve the strategic direction and expand the innovation agenda organization-wide. In addition to her experience and influence within the innovation and entrepreneurship realms, she supports educating the public about the impact of design and innovation in everyday life, education, and workplaces as an advisory council member at the Design Museum Boston.
Andrew McCue
Andrew McCueSustainability Consultant at Metabolic - Amsterdam
Originally from Boston, Massachusetts, Andrew grew up in a family that took food seriously. Andrew has devoted himself to understanding and creating a sustainable food system, working in both traditional soil farming and hydroponic farming, helping sustainable urban farms succeed around the world. His experience ranges from rearing pasture-raised heritage breed pigs in North Carolina to leading training sessions on hydroponic farming and the installation of hydroponic farms in New York, Dubai, and Paris.

Andrew moved to Amsterdam to join Metabolic as a sustainability consultant for the industries team, where he uses his experience in agrifood to help businesses and communities feed themselves and heal the planet. Andrew’s driving passions are for food, cities, and people. His interest in different food systems stemmed from a fascination with other languages and cultures, and his dual degree in French and Religion from the University of Vermont provides a unique, holistic perspective on our relationship with what we eat.

CITIXL is a private public partnership creating “Exchange Labs” between Amsterdam’s City CTO office and  international partner cities. These “Exchange Labs” promote best practices and catalyze vis-a-vis bottom up citizen-led co-creationof ideas and solutions to real city-wide challenges.