Qualities of a Good Place
Good places around the world share similar characteristics. The manifestation of these qualities may differ depending on the context, but we have found that most of them portray most, if not all of these qualities.
These qualities were drawn from our experiences in practice as the pioneer placemaking studio in Singapore, and also from studying case studies and frameworks from across the world. It is not a checklist, but a set of guiding principles to study and create a lovable place for people to live, work, and play in. These qualities also form the foundation of our approach, tools, and services.
Feels Welcoming and Comfortable
A good place offers an inviting physical presence to both old and new users. It makes people feel psychologically at ease and considers how one might access and experience the place, the ease and comfort in moving around the place, and the sense of physical comfort at the place.
Capitalizes on sensorial surroundings
A good place is grounded in its context. It embraces and leverages on its surrounding natural and urban qualities to offer a rich, multi-sensorial experience that is unique to its location.
Values authenticity and originality
A good place feels local - like you couldn’t find it anywhere else, and authentic, like you’ve just happened upon a new idea. This quality looks at the personality of a place, whether it feels too contrived or over-branded, and whether it has a distinctive character or a “cookie cutter” vibe.
Has a positive and memorable identity
Going to a good place should be an enjoyable and rewarding experience for people. This extends to activities that can be done on site, potential for memories to be formed or revisited, and offer opportunities for a multi-layered appreciation/experience of the place.
Strengthens community bonds
As a place for people, a good place should offer opportunities to build relationships between people and create a sense of ‘warmth’. It should either spark, support, or strengthen the diversity, size, and strength of the social networks. This ultimately aids in creating a resilient place capable of withstanding shocks to its social fabric, and a local resource pool that can meaningfully contribute to the place.
Respects narratives and memories
A good place displays an awareness of the multiple layers of meaning that various stakeholders and users have of it. It is also conscious of its own history and how its present and future actions fits in relation to that trajectory. This manifests itself in its form, activation, management, and communications.
Encourages user ownership
A good place has a strong connection between the physical space and the people who use it. Users and stakeholders are invested in it, actively involved in affecting its form, usage, and maintenance. This also makes the place more relevant to user’s desires and more resilient to evolving needs and situations.
Adds value for everyone
A good place should offer itself as a platform and catalyst for various stakeholders to enjoy returns on their investments into the place - directly or indirectly through a ripple effect of various place initiatives/stimuli. This should be tangible and can take many forms including economic, environmental, social, and more - depending on what the stakeholder themselves consider of value. This quality should also be sustainable in the long-run.