What is Placemaking?

Placemaking is a buzzword cropping up across the Experiential Management sector. It applies to shopping centres, business improvement districts, entertainment districts, mixed-use estates, residential estates and neighbourhoods, cities, parks, market places and waterfronts. It applies to new builds and old spaces. It’s not just about development, it’s also about reimagination and regeneration, creating environments where people can come together.

What ‘Placemaking’ means is building communities that are socially connected with each other and emotionally connected with the place they share or inhabit. To achieve this, management teams must turn to the people who inhabit the space to understand their needs and aspirations and deliver a strategy totally in tune with this.

If a community has the chance to be involved with the delivery, management or redevelopment of their space, it addresses their needs directly and increases the bond and attachment they have with the destination. Where this involvement was previously unwelcomed, property developers, planners and landlords now actively seek it out in various forms including public consultations and open discussion forums. By identifying the needs of a destination or development, designers ensure they deliver a project aligned with the community living and working in that place. It creates an environment totally fit for purpose and mitigates risks such as overcrowded communal areas, traffic jammed roads or too few parking spaces. It also requires a genuine understanding of the social, economic and cultural identities of the community as well as the physical features to ensure a strategy attuned to them.

Once a place is functioning, placemaking requires a forum for communities to come together and socialise, network and share experiences and ideas. By doing so, management teams increase the loyalty and feeling of belonging the community shares with the place they inhabit. It creates an emotional bond between the community and the place in their lives.

Popular methods used to deliver this include:

  • Community networks, intranets, online social media platforms and notice boards
  • Community events, competitions and socials
  • Big screen sporting events and movie nights
  • Sustainability initiatives, gardening activities and charity fundraisers
  • Wellbeing events such as yoga and morning circuits
  • Artisan food markets and craft fairs

By creating these emotional bonds, inhabitants want to return time and time again, extend their stay or join the community: it increases demand, limits supply and creates a highly regarded and highly sought after environment.

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