Placemaking- What if we built cities around places?

Placemaking inspires people to collectively reimagine and reinvent public spaces as the heart of every community. Strengthening the connection between people and the places they share, placemaking refers to a collaborative process by which we can shape our public realm in order to maximize shared value. More than just promoting better urban design, placemaking facilitates creative patterns of use, paying particular attention to the physical, cultural, and social identities that define a place and support its ongoing evolution.

Public space is inherently multidimensional. Successful and genuine public spaces are used by many different people for many different purposes at many different times of the day and the year. Because public spaces harbour so many uses and users—or fail to do so—they are also where a staggering cross-section of local and global issues converge.

Public space is for negotiating the interface between our homes, our businesses, our institutions, and the broader world. Public space is how we get to work, how we do our errands, and how we get back home. Public space is where nearly half of violent crimes happen. Public space is where policing ensures safety for some but not others. Public space is for buying and selling, or for meeting, playing, and bumping into one another. Public space is for conveying our outrage and our highest aspirations, as well as for laying the most mundane utilities and infrastructure. And when we let it, public space can be a medium for creativity, expression, and experimentation.
In short, public space is where so many tragedies and triumphs of the commons play out. And that’s why getting it right matters. The ten issue areas where we believe placemaking can have the most transformative impact are: equity & inclusion; streets as places; architecture of place; innovation hubs; market cities; place governance; sustainability & resilience; rural communities; creative placemaking; and health.

To be successful, cities need destinations. They need destinations that give an identity and image to their communities, and that help attract new residents, businesses, and investment. But they also need strong community destinations that attract people. A destination might be a downtown square, a main street, a waterfront, a park, or a museum. Cities of all sizes should have at least 10 destinations where people want to be. What makes each destination successful is that it has multiple places within it. For example, a square needs at least 10 places: a café, a children’s play area, a place to read the paper or drink a cup of coffee, a place to also sit, somewhere to meet friends, etc. Within each of the places, there should be at least 10 things to do. Cumulatively, these activities, places and destinations are what make a great city. We call this big idea the “Power of 10+.

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