Community Placemaking is a participative and flexible approach to planning and managing public spaces and facilities so there is no set ‘recipe’ for a placemaking project. We do, however, aim to follow the four steps presented below.
In the early stages of any Placemaking project, we work with communities to identify critical issues and problems relating to existing public spaces or to envisioning and shaping new places. We begin by working with communities to understand how a space or neighbourhood is used, or could be used. Typically, this involves observations, stakeholder interviews and a placemaking workshop where participants work in teams to evaluate their area using a simple but powerful place evaluation tool. Where a community is seeking to retrofit an existing place, we help them to develop a comprehensive functional understanding about how public spaces in their area currently work – or don’t work — for the people using it.
developing the vision
Any place can turn into a great place if the local community shares a compelling vision for its future. That’s why we focus on a community-based visioning process that engages the full range of local stakeholders. We bring people with diverse ideas together in an inclusive process that produces high-quality, workable recommendations with big impacts. In this visioning process, we draw from our knowledge and experience of public spaces all over the world, showing what makes some public spaces succeed in attracting public use while others fail. The visioning process builds momentum for bold ideas and sets the stage for ongoing collaboration between stakeholders.
Even the most inclusive workshop will miss some groups. We, therefore, work with the local project team to engage the broader community using a variety of methods including online and mail surveys, social networking and project discussion forums. Based on all of this input, we develop a programme of uses, which we then translate into a concept design plan, presentation and report that summarises the findings of the study, improvement opportunities and an overall implementation strategy.
making it happen
Our Placemaking implementation plans provide a road map to take Placemaking projects from concept to completion. We start this process by recommending a range of short-term, inexpensive experiments that also build credibility by proving change can happen. Successful demonstrations draw in additional partners and financial support for the long-term changes to come. We support the project team to protect the integrity of the community’s ideas from design development through to completion of works.
developing sustainable management approaches
International experience internationally shows that the success of any public space as a place depends predominantly on how it is managed. Successful places are flexible and adaptable to changing interests and needs in the local community. This requires management approaches which support and encourage use and which can accommodate change over time. We work with project teams to embed management into Placemaking plans and to develop long-term management approaches which will be sustainable.
leaving a legacy
Our aim with all Placemaking projects is to leave behind sufficient capacity within the Placemaking group (residents, local authority officers etc.) to:
allow them to update, expand and adjust their future plans in light of the learning from their short-term actions
allow them to replicate placemaking elsewhere
allow them to challenge aspects of local plans and projects which are contrary to the place vision
allow them to continue to work with existing, and to develop new, partners