WHAT IS PLACEMAKING?
Placemaking is a people-centered process of building up the character and quality of place.
- Shophouse & Co
To understand placemaking, one must begin by questioning what kind of place that one is trying to make. At Shophouse & Co, we’ve spent a lot of time researching and thinking about this and have distilled it down to a framework that we call “Qualities of a Good Place”. We believe that places with these qualities can become great places for people to live, work, and play - the kind of cities that we need in this age of urbanisation.
Placemaking is both a process and an attitude to urban development. It recognises that cities and communities are dynamic, and creating places must be an iterative process. It also puts people at the centre of the process - not cars, architecture, politics, economics, events, technology, or any specific discipline for that matter. Because of this, placemaking manifests itself as a collaborative and multi-disciplinary process to create places with and for the local stakeholders.
While Placemaking is a diverse field with no single canonical definition, there are underlying principles that many practitioners are collectively aligned towards: that it is a collaborative process to maximise shared value; has a strong focus on the public realm; plays a role in strengthening connection between people and place; aims to transform regular urban spaces to loveable places; strong desire for strategies and efforts that are economically, environmentally, and socially sustainable; and a deep respect for the hyperlocal physical, cultural, and social context.
There are many types of placemaking with each of them having a specific approach that is best suited for particular objectives eg: strategic placemaking, tactical placemaking, creative placemaking, and more. There are also various tools of placemaking which are the vehicles, magnets, knobs, and levers, to deliver the placemaking strategy. This can take the form of "hardware" such as urban design, public furniture, architectural design; "software" such as place activation events and place branding efforts; and "orgware" which manifests in forms such as strategic plans, place management regulations, organisation frameworks, and policies.
Just like the fact that not all cooks are chefs, not all public spaces are places, not all public events are placemaking programmes, and not all liveable spaces are loveable places. Placemaking, as a people-centered process of building up the character and quality of place, is the key to that difference. It might even be the key to the future of cities across the world.