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Strategic and creative placemaking

Examine citizen engagement through strategic and creative placemaking.

Placemaking is a community driven process that invites local residents to reimagine the spaces within which they work and live.

Place making is a community process Daniel Lattore, 1st Digital Placemaking Project, creative commons licence on Flickr


As a means for improving a neighbourhood, city, or region, placemaking enables people to collectively reimagine and reinvent public spaces. Strengthening the connection between people and the places they share, placemaking refers to a collaborative process by which people can shape their public realm.

Placemaking is underpinned by the physical, cultural, and social identities that define a place and its’ evolution. It capitalises on a local community’s assets, inspiration, and potential to generate public spaces that contribute to people’s health, happiness, and well being.

SPUR, Placemaking: Market and 6th, creative commons licence on Flickr

Strategic and creative placemaking

We’ll examine two forms of placemaking:

  • Strategic placemaking

These processes are typically attached to a specific goal or target in addition to designing safe, welcoming, and easily accessible spaces. Strategic placemaking processes are often employed to attract businesses or talented workers to a particular area.

  • Creative placemaking

Focuses on animating the physical and social character of a town, city or region through the use of arts and cultural activities. This includes community driven murals or music festivals, for example:

Tierras en danza, Spain

Tierras en danza is a contemporary dance project based in rural locations of Cáceres, Extremadura in Spain. It provides a summer intensive for professional dancers from all over the world and is a free contemporary dance festival with shows, exhibitions, workshops and video dance projections for citizens to become immersed in this kind of art.

This is an additional video, hosted on YouTube.

Esseri Urbani, Puglia, Italy

ESSERI URBANI elects art as a means of reading the contemporary world, but also as a tool to take action. It provides the opportunity for research and experimentation, to bring together communities, landscapes and local architectures with contemporary artistic languages. The Festival takes place in the streets in a sort of widespread museum, with free admission and multimedia content accessible through QR code.

Place based approaches

Successful engagement of the community is critical to place-based approaches. Residents are vital in determining the assets and needs of the local area. The following core values can guide approaches to placemaking:

  • sustainability
  • inclusiveness
  • well-being.

Small scale, place-based projects have a transformative effect on neighbourhoods and local communities and play an important role in cumulatively affecting global change. For transformation to be meaningful, it requires an integrated approach that draws from the many competences and knowledge of the local community.

A diverse range of viewpoints and professions allows for a robust cross-fertilisation of ideas, skills and experience. Additionally, greater representation of local people in the development process leads to more harmonious and effective urban environments that make sense to its residents.

In the next step, we’ll examine the role of a third form of placemaking – digital placemaking.

Further reading

If you would like to explore some of the concepts we have covered in more detail, the following resources are optional.

Temporary Use as a Participatory Placemaking Tool to Support Cultural Initiatives and Its Connection to City Marketing Strategies—The Case of Athens.

Placemaking in Action: Factors That Support or Obstruct the Development of Urban Community Gardens

© RMIT Europe, EIT Community and New European Bauhaus
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Fostering Inclusive Citizen Engagement in Urban Development

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