Placemakers of the world, unite! You have nothing to lose but your anonymity!

Architects as a profession own the design of buildings, developers as a profession own the construction of those buildings, and Engineers as a profession own the technical design of the works in our public spaces. Place-makers, it’s your time to step forward as a profession and confidently claim ownership of the design, function and curation of the spaces between those buildings.

Vital elements of a new placemaking paradigm must be put forward for liveable cities and neighbourhoods. This new paradigm is anchored on the ‘eye-level’ lived experience as a potent blend of public-domain design, activation, lighting, safety, cleansing, retail and accessibility that powerfully determines how we perceive the success or failure of public spaces.

The vital elements of a new place-making paradigm:

  • How to deal with ‘wicked problems’ that don’t have straightforward ‘technical’ solutions. Place-makers deal with urban planning, design, social planning, property economics and capital works. Tips for thriving in the discipline of the ‘discipline agnostics’.
  • Redefining the community perception of ‘design’ from ‘announcements’, to a co-operative discovery process which may lead to announcements. Its heart is the process that occurs between expressing an idea and writing the business case for that idea.
  • How we’re human-centric and playful, but also serious as we address congestion, sprawl, and adverse environmental impacts. Find take-aways for embracing rigour, metrics, and measurement as we tackle the challenges facing our cities while remembering that we’re not scientists!
  • How to act as a ‘connector’ between agencies, elected bodies, and business with story-telling informed by data and analysis. Place-makers as a profession will persuade based on what they know and what they can prove, not what they think or hope, or even worse, individual predilections.
  • Adding value from ‘concept to curation’ and not privileging the ‘new’ over ‘re-engineering’ or ‘retrofitting’.

Abstract from ICTC 2019 Conference
Author: Bruce Mills, Group Manager – Place Services, City of Parramatta Council