Considerations for Placemaking
03.06.2018 Design Ideation and Concepting Consultants
Placemaking is an important consideration in designing so many private and public gathering places. Here are some sensibilities to keep in mind as placemaking proceeds.
- Foster an identity of the place – Like any product, a place with a distinct identity, a reason for being, tends to be more attractive for people.
- Provide anchor activities – Anchor activities are necessary in creating a place of interest. The anchor activities can be strongly commercial – such as dining and shopping, or even the “gather and stare” quality of a place.
- Provide sufficient activities – Destination- quality gathering places have enough for people to do. A palpable “complexity of place” achieved by there being “more than enough” to do may be the essential aspect of placemaking.
- Keep “place memory” in mind – Naming conventions applied to a place are important, a place name and its “feature names” become part of each person’s memory map that is conjured up in a particular person’s mind when a destination is mentioned.
- Event traditions are important – Recurring and special events create a community’s sense of tradition, and regard, for a place.
- Provide interesting features – Unique features can be any manner of things – iconic structures, towers, monuments, public art, fountains, etc. There are usually ample opportunities to integrate EASIL features in most destination places.
- Make it comfortable – Comfort factors include easy access to restrooms and a pervasive sense of personal security. When people feel secure and are comfortable they will linger if the place holds their interest.
- Allow for seasonal adaptation – A gathering place should reflect the time of year, changing out merchandise offerings on carts, overhead banners, and the like.
- Worry about the retail edges – Placemaking is enhanced by the strong retail rhythms of adjacent and approach zone retailers and restaurants.
- Define a human scale to the edges – Architecture is part of placemaking; it becomes the backdrop, the setting, in which the guest experience occurs. All else is “liner” to the architectural edge provided. A human scale is important to people’s sense of a place’s attractiveness.
- Monetize the place – An important aspect of placemaking is monetization of the place. If the private and public sector “permanent” occupants of a place are making money, the place can be enduring. If the place requires continual subsidies to remain interesting, over the long-term it will likely not succeed as a gathering place.