Placemaking is the process of gathering feedback from communities to create public spaces that are built around the community vision and needs. Placemaking can help avoid some common issues such as traffic flow, or little used spaces such as parks.
The community knows best. One of the most important elements of placemaking is involving the community in the planning for the space. They know how people will use a space and how it should function as well as what kinds of features are valued by the community.
Places, not designs. The idea here is that planning takes the entire space into account for a design. The surrounding community including businesses and other amenities are considered so the planning includes the place as a whole, and not just creating a design for a park, for instance.
Placemaking is a group effort. Placemaking isn’t done by just one person, or group. Partners for placemaking can include the community or neighborhood, and public and private business and institutions.
Observations are key. Before a space can be designed, the placemaking process requires that the partners observe the space and get input from the community. How does the neighborhood view this space? Is anything missing? Even after the space is built, it’s important to follow up with observations.
Placemaking requires vision. This vision should be based on what the community as a whole as agreed upon.
Placemaking requires patience. Working with multiple partners to achieve your vision takes patience. Don’t be discouraged if the progress isn’t as fast as you’d desire.
Triangulation is important. This refers to where amenities are placed so that they encourage more social interaction and are used more frequently.
Don’t listen to the negative talk. There will be some people who don’t understand or value the process. For some “it’s never been done that way” will be a frequent complaint. Remember that progress takes people out of their comfort zone.
Form supports function. Simply put this means that a space’s form (how it’s built) should include the original functionality of the space. For instance, a children’s library can have an attached playground, but if there is a large park but no library, the original function of the space has been ignored.
Money is not the issue. When executed correctly, the project should have the infrastructure needed to succeed, with community partners (businesses, vendors, etc.). Public sentiment should be that the cost is worth it.
You are never finished. Remember that in an urban environment, amenities will need to be updated. In addition, the way a community changes may require flexibility and change.
When used together, these principles of placemaking will help the process run smoothly and will keep the key partners, including the community itself, engaged in the success of the project.
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