49 incredible public-space transformations captured by Google Street View

Urb-i public space transformations; Place du Palais, Bordeaux, FranceUrb-iPlace du Palais, Bordeaux, France.

Cities are built for humans.

But if you look at the layout of most of them, it looks like they’re made for cars.

Seeing that, a Brazilian urban planning collective called Urb-i (shorthand for Urban Ideas) set out to show examples of people-friendly spaces with a before-and-after gallery of Google Street View images revealing the most stunning public space transformations from around the world.

The results give us hope that our cities are becoming better places to live.

We are a society 'addicted to cars,' according to the four young founders of Urb-i.

Getty Images/Daniel Berehulak
Traffic halts in New Delhi, India.

Yuval Fogelson, Carolina Guido, Fernanda Mercês, and Rodolfo Macedo founded Urb-i in 2015.

It just doesn't seem fair. Fortunately, the founders of Urb-i have an addiction of their own ...

Urb-i/Google Street View
Aalsmeerplein, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

They're obsessed with Google Street View.

Urb-i/Google Street View
Ferenciek tere, Budapest, Hungary.

Yuval Fogelson spends hours diving into the search engine's rabbit hole, scanning the world for stunning public space redesigns that favour pedestrians over vehicles.

Urb-i
Suwon cheon, Suwan, South Korea.

In some areas, Google Street View offers a timeline of images, so you can see how a space has evolved over time.

Urb-i/Google Street View
Times Square, New York City, United States of America.

It's pretty satisfying to see the results.

Urb-i/Google Street View
Moscow Zachatyevskiy per., Moscow, Russia.

Urb-i began curating the images in a gallery, hoping to showcase public spaces that put pedestrians -- and cyclists -- first.

Urb-i/Google Street View
Retsif Herbert Samuel St., Tel Aviv-Yafo, Israel.

'I have already developed a few strategies to finding these transformations, and quite frankly, I'm addicted,' says Fogelson.

Urb-i/Google Street View
Praça Mauá, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

The group keeps tabs on urban transformation blogs and architectural projects, so they know where to check on Google Street View.

Urb-i/Google Street View
Van Gogh Walk, London, England.

The before-and-after images look like reflections, thanks to carefully angled screenshots.

Urb-i/Google Street View
Krymskaya nab., Moscow, Russia.

Today, Urb-i's before-and-after gallery contains more than 1,000 public-space transformations from around the world.

Urb-i/Google Street View
Gwanggyo, Seoul, South Korea.

In São Paulo, Brazil, where Urb-i's members work at a socially responsible architecture firm, this curb got a new life with paving and a park bench.

Urb-i/Google Street View
R. Barão de Campinas, São Paulo, Brazil.

The makeovers vary in scale. An alleyway in San Francisco is nearly unrecognizable after an outdoor seating area is installed.

Urb-i/Google Street View
Annie Alley, San Francisco, United States.

Two pavilions made of glass and steel jazz up this street in Milan, Italy. A ticket office and a cultural event space operate inside.

Urb-i/Google Street View
Via Luca Beltrami, Milan, Italy.

Archways add some decadence to a side street in Singapore.

Urb-i and Google Street View
Muscat St., Singapore.

Sometimes all it takes is a footpath.

Urb-i/Google Street View
Osborne St., Auckland, New Zealand.

'For the pedestrian, an extra meter or two of footpath means a whole lot,' Urb-i says.

Fort Street, Auckland, New Zealand.
Fort Street, Auckland, New Zealand.

Size isn't the only thing that matters.

Urb-i/Google Street View
R. Antonio de Albuquerque, Belo Horizonte, Brazil.

'If designed well,' Urb-i says, a public space 'functions as a place of permanence where we socialise, rather than just a passage to get us from Point A to Point B.'

Urb-i/Google Street View
Gansevoort St., New York City, United States.

Let's take a look at some more examples.

Urb-i/Google Street View
Myeongdong-gil, Jung-gu, Seoul, South Korea.

A little greenery goes a long way in Budapest, Hungary.

Urb-i/Google Street View
Csarnok tér, Budapest, Hungary.

Pedestrians can enjoy the shrubbery in Lyon, France, too.

Urb-i/Google Street View
Avenue Général Brosset, Lyon, France.

Fake trees and art installations work well in Montréal, Canada.

Urb-i/Google Street View
Rue Victoria, Montréal, Canada.

Montréal's Avenue du Musée doesn't disappoint either, with a rotating sculpture installation available for public viewing.

Urb-i/Google Street View
Avenue du Musée, Montréal, Canada.

A new boardwalk outside Seoul, South Korea, lends stunning views of a river.

Urb-i/Google Street View
Gwanggyo, Seoul, South Korea.

These planter boxes make for a perfect place to each lunch on a rare sunny day in Seattle.

Urb-i/Google Street View
2nd Ave Ext S, Seattle, United States.

There's no more parking allowed on Van Gogh Walk in London, England.

Urb-i/Google Street View
Van Gogh Walk, London, England.
Urb-i
Iskola utca, Budapest, Hungary.

Designers can get creative with pavement, too. A semi-circle pattern spruces up a public space in Lower Manhattan.

Urb-i/Google Street View
Coenties Slip, New York City, United States.

Copenhagen, Denmark, has a case of the spots.

Urb-i/Google Street View
Vester Voldgade, Copenhagen, Denmark.

Madrid, Span, gets its very own, star-studded walk of fame.

Urb-i/Google Street View
Calle de Martín de los Heros, Madrid, Spain.

Across town in Madrid, a public space gets the cobblestone treatment.

Urb-i/Google Street View
Plaza Sta. Bárbara, Madrid, Spain.

Where once there were cars, bicycles reign supreme in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Urb-i/Google Street View
Regnbuepladsen, Copenhagen, Denmark.

A main artery in Brussels, Belgium, gets a bike lane for safety.

Urb-i/Google Street View
Waversesteenweg, Brussels, Belgium.

Almada, Portugal, looks like a postcard with its new public square.

Urb-i/Google Street View
R. Cândido dos Reis, Almada, Portugal.

Not far away in Lisbon, Portgual, pedestrians and motorists seem to share the space, instead of competing for it.

Urb-i/Google Street View
R. Fialho de Almeida, Lisbon, Portugal.

London's Granary Square gets a face-lift.

Urb-i/Google Street View
Granary Square, London, England.

In Tel Aviv, Israel, a raised platform offers a place to rest while you run errands.

Urb-i/Google Street View
Yehuda ha-Levi St, Tel Aviv, Israel.

You won't find any cars in this beautiful grove in Amsterdam.

Urb-i/Google Street View
Iepenplein, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Paris, France, swaps a roadway for public transit, giving pedestrians a whole new view.

Urb-i/Google Street View
Boulevard Masséna, Paris, France.

A bustling street in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, turns into a tranquil walkway.

Urb-i/Google Street View
R. Pernambuco, Belo Horizonte, Brazil.

We might even call this an excessive amount of footpath in Budapest, Hungary.

Urb-i/Google Street View
Idősebb Antall József rakpart, Budapest, Hungary.

This intersection in Lyon, France, looks totally different.

Urb-i/Google Street View
Avenue Général Brosset, Lyon, France.

Over in Toulouse, France, a park takes the place of a parking lot.

Urb-i/Google Street View
Allée Jules Guesde, Toulouse, France.

This makeover in Seattle is just stunning.

Urb-i/Google Street View
Marion St., Seattle, United States.

While Fogelson curates most of the before-and-after images himself, there is a way public-space enthusiasts can help.

Urb-i/Google Street View
Mr. Visserplein, Amsterdam, Netherlands.

In January, Urb-i started a collaborators program so people can volunteer time searching for transformations on Google Street View.

Urb-i/Google Street View
Fort St., Auckland, New Zealand.

He hopes to eventually launch a platform where people can share proposals for future before-and-after public space transformations.

Urb-i/Google Street View
Place Cardinal Mercier, Jette Brussels, Belgium.

'We are seeking to create a bottom-up network which will connect professionals, residents, designers, and hopefully decision-makers,' Fogelson says.

Urb-i/Google Street View
Rue Alphonse Vandenpeereboom, Brussels, Belgium.

You can see more before-and-after images (and contribute your own) by visiting Urb-i's website.

Urb-i/Google Street View
Balfour St., Chippendale, Australia.

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