People create cities [placemaking]

placemaking 2017 blog

Placemaking is fostered by reinventing public spaces to create a sense of ‘place’ and activate under-utilized parts of cities, often through small-scale intervention and community collaboration. It strengthens community relationships and fosters creativity and the evolution of a community.

Placemaking often involves grassroots innovation by locals, who come together to collaborate, re-purpose space and promote better urban design in their neighbourhoods. A great example of this is PARK(ing) Day, an annual worldwide event where artists, designers and citizens transform metered parking spots into temporary public parks.

park day

Project for Public Places describes placemaking as a way to facilitate,

“Creative patterns of use, paying particular attention to the physical, cultural, and social identities that define a place and support its ongoing evolution.”

Community-led placemaking allows people of all ages and walks of life to play a key role in giving the place a new identity.

Earlier this year, Australia held its first Community Led Placemaking Summit – Great Neighbourhoods 2017. During this event, leading practitioners and community advocates shared ideas and built a movement for stronger local leadership.

Placemaking Week, 2017

The 2017 Placemaking Week takes place from Tuesday to Saturday, October 10–14, 2017 in Amsterdam, Netherlands. The week is all about collaborating on the future of public space with urban designers, city-makers, activists, leaders and lovers of place from around the world. We wish we could be there!

Five principles of placemaking

In the spirit of Placemaking Week, we thought we would share 5 principles of placemaking and how to bring these principles into practice. These tips are referencing The Guide to Neighbourhood Placemaking in Chicago’s article 11 Principles of Placemaking.

1.The community is the expert

People who regularly use public spaces will have strong insights about how an area functions. This can help identify issues and opportunities for an unused or misused space. Involving people in placemaking is paramount. Community ownership is key to the sustained success of a placemaking project.

2. Develop a vision together

A vision will form the basis of the design and implementation. Things you need to consider include the spaces character, activities and uses. In placemaking, the vision is defined by people who live or work near the space. People will tend to find the time to participate in Placemaking projects in order to create a place to best suit their needs.

3. Think about future use

Often, people will consider their own needs for the space. By keeping active users of the space in mind while designing, you can significantly lower implementation costs as well as minimize the need to create a poorly used space.

4. Money shouldn’t stop it

A lack of funds is a common excuse for the lack public space improvements. It’s important to remember potential partners will often search for creative solutions. Crowd funding is a common solution to this issue, and placemaking solutions don’t need to be costly. The end-goal is to take the location and visibility of the public space and combine this with a willingness to work with local partners to help enhance public spaces. Rapid Urban Revitalisation is a great resource for people looking for cheap, easy and fun ways to transform their local neighbourhood. Transforming public spaces using the “Lighter, Quicker, Cheaper” methodology (simple, short-term, low-cost solutions) are proven to have remarkable impacts on the shaping of neighbourhoods and cities all over the world.

5. The complete product doesn’t mean your work is finished

The Guide to Neighborhood Placemaking in Chicago states about 80% of public spaces are successful due to ongoing effective management. Useful public places require ongoing maintenance and the ability to quickly respond to change.

The 3 keys to creating great places

Creating great neighbourhoods is about building networks of people and places. There are three key ingredients to creating great places:

A physical space, people and activity and an operating system.

In her curated session at the Engage 2 Act (un)Conference, Lucinda Hartley, Founder of Codesign Studios, spoke about the importance of having the social architecture in place to get things going and keep them going.

Credit: Lucinda Hartley, Codesign Studio

Young people and placemaking

Young people are the world’s future entrepreneurs. They’re also our future city-builders, business owners, creatives and players. Young people are frequent users of public spaces as this is where they gather to socialize with friends. They are also great re-inventors of place, and community leaders are taking note.

Young people have the ability to influence future town planners and community leaders to help shape their city spaces.

In Newcastle, Australia, Renew Newcastle is working with property owners and young entrepreneurs to help activate vacant spaces in under-utilized areas of the city. Renew Newcastle supports the local community by providing cheap, temporary rental properties in order to bring life and activity back to those places.

Cheryl Millard from Placemaking for Public Spaces wrote an intriguing article about young people in placemaking.

My personal favorite example was the Fremantle Esplanade Youth Plaza in Western Australia. The Plaza was awarded for its world-renowned skatepark venue. Young people can bring their own music for late night skating and as night falls, the lights turn off to encourage the young skaters to go home.

To develop the project, the City of Fremantle held a number of council meetings as well as skatepark workshops, consultation groups and interviews with the youth to involve them in the design process.

Are you attending Placemaking Week in Amsterdam? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

Interested in learning more about placemaking? Read these articles:

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