Open Access

Typology of terrain vague and emergence mechanisms in post-communist, post-industrial small and medium-sized towns in Slovakia: Case study of Humenné, Strážske and Vranov and Topľou


There have been many problems associated with underutilized areas in towns, although they also offer significant potential for urban renewal, especially in post-communist, post-socialist countries, where a series of key historical events has caused socio-economic and political changes leading to urban decay. The underlying feature of unused areas is their apparent abandonment, absence of use, lack of identity but high potential. However, not all unused areas should be labelled as brownfields; therefore, we studied the terms commonly used to describe underutilized areas. We chose the term terrain vague to map and describe all apparently empty but still intriguing spaces in our model towns of Humenné, Strážske and Vranov and Topľou, in eastern Slovakia. Our paper aims to create a typology of terrain vague to better understand its manifestation in our conditions. It also aims to determine the causes that led to its emergence or as we call it the emergence mechanisms, in the context of post-industrial small and middle-sized towns in Slovakia. We combined field survey and desktop analysis methods to map terrain vague based on set criteria. We evaluated mapped terrain vague and, using the data, created a typology of terrain vague consisting of nine types and identified three key emergence mechanisms and their subcategories. We based them on commonly used terms that fit within the specific context of our model towns. By using the new typology and emergence mechanism, we can identify patterns running along towns with similar backgrounds that result in similar problems and develop solutions accordingly. Results of our research could be generalized and serve as a basis for future research aimed at finding strategies for revitalizing terrain vague in shrinking post-industrial towns facing different problems than prosperous cities.

Publication timeframe:
4 times per year
Journal Subjects:
Architecture and Design, Architecture, Architects, Buildings, Landscape Architecture, Landscape Architects, Design, Designers, other