What is Placemaking?

Placemaking has become a popular phrase used in the shopping centre and retail industry, but what does it actually mean?

Placemaking can be defined as a multi-faceted approach to the planning, design and management of public spaces.

Project for public spaces says placemaking is based on a simple principle: if you plan cities for cars and traffic, you will get cars and traffic. If you plan for people and places, you will get people and places. Shopping centres strive for high levels of footfall and consumers want to visit experiential centres where they can have innovative experiences. Placemaking strategies enable centres to provide unique, engages experiences for customers, encouraging repeat visits.

Placemaking requires businesses to have a dynamic approach to how public spaces are managed. To be successful, placemaking requires a clear vision to be developed. This vision needs to be created focusing on the people, community, offerings and general property usage. Placemaking also highlights the importance of community relationships & CSR strategies as these are great ways to create a personal connection with visitors in the local area.

The ideology behind placemaking is encouraging visitors to build an emotional attachment to a property or in our case; shopping centres. We are seeing more and more job descriptions including the word placemaking – candidates need to fully understand this phrase and the importance of it. Candidates now need to be able to understand the consumer demographic, their lifestyles and interests. There is no ‘one size fits all’ strategy that can be implemented when it comes to placemaking; everyone has different interests so a diverse mix of experiential offerings needs to be strategised and implemented.

Creating a dynamic environment is essential – consumers want and are captivated by new innovation. Researching, designing and introducing new initiatives are what makes a shopping centre a place worth visiting.

Placemaking also links back to the importance of mixed-use schemes. Shopping centres are no longer visited for the sole purpose of shopping; they are places to meet friends, have dinner and enjoy leisure activities such as cinema or bowling – they are happy and engaging destinations. Shopping centres need to attract a strong tenant mix to ensure the centre appeals to all and is ultimately equipped to increase dwell time.

Amenities and facilities need to be continually assessed to strategise where improvements can be made. Consumer’s expectations are always changing and growing so ‘placemaking’ can never truly be completed. Management teams need to create a place that encourages people to stay and return by creating a sense of pride and loyalty.

Kat Whitehead, Senior Marketing Executive, Foundation Recruitment 

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