P.L.A.C.E.S = People, Legible, wAlkble, Character, Enclosure and Sustainability - common qualities of the places we like. What do you think?
Image: An Australian Urban Design Award winner - the conversion of a water reservoir into a high quality urban park – reminiscent of Greece. Good urban design or good park design?
We always ask participants in our courses to identify their favourite places. They tend to share key characteristics or 'Place Qualities'. To help remember them we developed the acronym (or bacronym*) P.L.A.C.E.S. This is a prototype and we would appreciate your feedback.
Is this a people place? What attracts people and makes them return?
It makes sense to have people up front in criteria about streets and places. We tend to look for people when deciding on a cafe, restaurant or place. Participants quickly pick me up when I use a photo without people in it.
- Fit & function
- Social Fabric
- Quality of the public realm/Sensory pleasure
Is this place easy to understand? Are the streets and places recognisable, navigable and coherent?
In order for a centre, city or suburb to function we need to be able to find our way through it. One of the functions of centres is to enable the greatest amount of exchange in the least time and lowest effort. While enabling little surprises along the way.
Is this place made for walking? Does it promote exchange over movement?
The decisions we make on our streets and other places should focus on the pedestrian at the ground level. Have you noticed that many of the places you like have a parking problem? In other words focus on pedestrians no car parks.
- Social equity
- Overtly green
Several of these are drivers of good urban design/placemaking. They really need to be there for good places to be sustainable in the long term. This might include: Character; Diversity; Accessibility; Fit & function; Animators; Continuity and enclosure; Consistency & variety; Legibility; Structure; Features; Social Fabric; and Sustainability
The “optimisers” (not sure if this is the best word yet?) are variable, based on personal preference. For example you might have a different tolerance for safety to an older or younger person (‘grittyness’)? They might include: Quality of the public realm; Safety; Creativity; and Sensory pleasure.
Based on the Qualities of Successful Places in the Councillor's Guide to Urban Design (Urban Intiatives, 2003). This is a excellent and concise introduction to urban design. As well as the NZ Urban Design Protocol and the VIC Urban Design Charter.
Place Qualities E-Workbook
Relevant Blogs: Be brave - click the red button; Design and the four categories of placemaking; Home advertising - literally; Is your favourite place 5 Star?; Movie - New Town 1948; Should we copy local architecture?; William H Whyte's doco - “The Social Life of Small Urban Places”; Why height limits in our cities deliver more interesting places; Traffic studies are bull****; Forget the gym - focus on place!; 13 products to facilitate walking