The Pros of Placemaking

Placemaking was a term that prior to these readings, I struggled to define to family and friends who inquired about the course. It was clear we would be transforming public spaces in Perugia for the benefit of the general community, but I was less sure of the greater purpose behind our project in Borgo Bello and its connection to placemaking as a method of creating massive change in any community. After reading Anirban Adhya’s piece on Jane Jacobs and the two articles discussing the positive implications of placemaking, I have gained a greater understanding and appreciation for this method or urban planning and everything it embodies.

Something I admire about Jane Jacob’s proposed solution to the “spatial-social divide” in urban design is its utter simplicity (219). Her ideas are rooted in common sense and the idea that a community should be a reflection of the values, ideas and practices of its diverse population. Jacobs argues that traditional and abstract forms of urban planning place too much emphasis on “compactness, density, and green architecture,” while failing to take local human experience and environmental impacts into account (220). In order for a space to be sustainable, the people need to have a need for the space and a desire to maintain it. In order for this to occur, it is essential for professional urban planners to work alongside community members, and complete three important steps in the process. These include confirmation, discussing ideas and conflicting interests, interrogation, uncovering the intentions of larger economic and social forces and institutions, and action framing, where action is framed by community dialogue.

The reading entitled “What is Placemaking?” constructed a similar definition of placemaking, while focusing a little more on concrete methods of creating change, such as dealing with issues of a space’s “street life,” “transit usage,” “rent levels,” and environmental data” (3). It also introduced the idea that placemaking would in fact make the developers’ job so much easier, as designs are more likely to be successful if they are informed by the public.

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