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Placemaking 101

What does Placemaking mean and how does it relate to Urban Design?

Federation Square Melbourne VIC AUS: Successful places like Federation Square are designed with one or more functions in mind (in this instance a celebration), they relate to the context and deliver 'social fabric'.Federation Square Melbourne VIC AUS: Successful places like Federation Square are designed with one or more functions in mind (in this instance a celebration), they relate to the context and deliver 'social fabric'.


People Making Places.

Placemaking enables and empowers people to create attractive (sticky) streets and places. It includes urban design among other tools like popup and management.

Placemaking is a people centred approach to the planning, design and management of public spaces (including streets, foot paths, parks and parts of buildings). It enables and empowers people to create places which are prosperous, liveable, healthy and green. It includes urban design along with other placemaking tools.

As stated by Placemaking Chicago:

it is not just the act of building or fixing up a space; it is a process that fosters the creation of vital public destinations—the kind of places where people feel a strong stake in their communities and commitment to making things betterMetropolitan Planning Council of Chicago (PDF1.43 mb)

Placemaking enables and empowers the people who will use the place - workers, traders, residents and visitors.  When we empower we give the authority to do something. When we enable we give the tools, training and knowledge to do the task.

"Placemaking is empowered citizens breathing life into streets and neighbourhoods, making them attractive, inviting + safe.The Rapidian

It refers to the outcome of place... as well as the process - management, strategies, planning and urban design.

Baxter St, Fortitude Valley, Brisbane, QLD, AUS - I had a great time participating in PARK(ing) Day in front of the design studio of Deicke Richards. Baxter St, Fortitude Valley, Brisbane, QLD, AUS - I had a great time participating in PARK(ing) Day in front of the design studio of Deicke Richards. “Placemaking is both an overarching idea and a hands-on tool for improving a neighbourhood, city or region." Metropolitan Planning Council of Chicago (PDF1.43 mb)

It naturally includes the social fabric (events, festivals, shops) as well as the planning and design of the hard infrastructure (buildings, infrastructure and landscape).  

It is a way of thinking, as much as a process and an outcome.

"It involves looking at, listening to, and asking questions of the people who live, work and play in a particular space, to discover their needs and aspirations" PPS

A course participant suggested: Placemaking is the art of creating public ‘places of the soul’ that uplift and help us connect with people.

It includes Urban Design

Urban design shapes the hard infrastructure and enables the social fabric to create places across the range of urban environments.

This definition focuses our attention on the outcome - which is the creation of places. It confirms urban design meets the needs of users of places – who should determine the benchmark of success (not the designers). It also acknowledges that good places - economically vital, environmentally responsible and socially equitable - share qualities honed over thousands of years. It reminds us that our area of influence is not just cities but the suburbs as well as the towns and centres in the regions.

“Urban design is the collaborative and multi-disciplinary process of shaping the physical setting for life in cities, towns and villages; the art of making places; design in an urban context.”  (Urban Design Group, 2003)

Hibberson St Gungahlin Canberra ACT AUS: A new centre being created through diversity, density and street activation.Hibberson St Gungahlin Canberra ACT AUS: A new centre being created through diversity, density and street activation.According to Creating Places for People, the urban design protocol for Australian cities, urban design:

  • is concerned with the arrangement, appearance and function of our suburbs, towns and cities
  • is both a process and an outcome of creating localities in which people live, engage with each other, and the physical place around them
  • involves many different disciplines
  • operates from the macro to the micro scale
  • influences economics, the physical scale and the social and cultural nature of a locality
  • is a long-term process that continues to evolve over time.

The Urban Design Chapter of the Planning Institute of Australia proposes the following definition for urban design:

Urban design aims at the creation of useful, attractive, safe, environmentally sustainable, economically successful and socially equitable places. Good urban design pursues local identity and sense of place, cultural responsiveness and purposeful environmental innovation. It achieves a high level of quality, comfort, safety, equity, beauty and cohesion in the overall, physical outcome of all the development, planning, engineering, architectural and landscape design decisions that contribute to urban change.”

Why do we prefer Placemaking over urban design?

Claisebrook Cove, East Perth, WA, AUS - this impressive new precinct developed in Perth demonstrates the critical role of Government in PlacemakingClaisebrook Cove, East Perth, WA, AUS - this impressive new precinct developed in Perth demonstrates the critical role of Government in Placemaking

Our model of Placemaking includes urban design as one of the many tools to create places. We need to understand the problem before we propose solutions - which may include urban design. Alternatively, the solution may involve local employment, transport, events, features, etc.

We favour the term Placemaking over urban design as it is more encompassing and inclusive. It removes stigmas associated with ‘urban’ and ‘design’. Many people don’t consider themselves designers or maybe improving a suburban or rural centre.

"Placemaking has a broader scope than urban design. Behind urban design there is a collective of interdisciplinary specialists in the field. Behind the concept of placemaking there are the voices and perspectives of a whole community. Not relegated to a passive consultation process, but actively engaged in the design concepts and outcomes.Elio Gatti

With placemaking on the rise should we forget urban design? 

In short no. Without buildings, landscape and infrastructure creating streets, places, neighbourhoods and cities - placemaking will not be sustainable. Read our article for more information (With placemaking on the rise should we forget urban design?). 


Placefocus Workbooks 

Placemaking 101; Place Values; Place Qualities; Place Roles; 

Relevant Blogs

What type of Placemaking is best for your situation?Design and the four categories of placemakingWith placemaking on the rise should we forget urban design?Place enabling - a giant leap above consultation

Additional  Information

Available in PPT on Slideshare - Placemaking 101.

Videos worth watching

Placemaking in Adelaide;

Urban Design creates the stage and Place Activation is the show!

James Howard Kunstler: The ghastly tragedy of the suburbs


Want to learn more? 

Placefocus offers Australia's only Online Course "Introduction to Urban Design and Placemaking".  This 4 week course is an efficient and interactive learning unit that is available anywhere and anytime.  A leading edge, self paced experience that incorporates group discussions, video presentation, expert interviews, relevant Australian images, best practice examples, field study, mental maps... For more information, click here.

 

Want to keep intouch with regular case studies, news, and views on current urban design and placemaking projects and practices?  Subscribe to our fortnightly PlacePost to receive content direct to your inbox, or follow Placefocus on Facebook and LinkedIn.  For more information, click here.


More Placefocus articles introducing urban design and placemaking:

More Placefocus articles on Placemaking and urban design

 

 

 

 

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