Placemaking

What Is Placemaking

Placemaking is the act of reimagining everyday spaces into places where people love to gather and connect. It looks at how the “built environment” impacts on the way people understand and use a place and connect with each other.

Placemaking For Community Centres

For Community Centres, it means:

  • Understanding how your “built environment” – your building, landscaping, pathways, carpark, fencing, walls, lighting and signage – impact on the “look and feel” of your Centre, what people in the broader community understand about your Centre, how welcome they feel in entering, and how accessible it is.

AND

  • Working together with your community to transform the built environment through creative projects.

There is extensive information available on creating place and community through co-design (see Project for Public Spaces), however, the following are some basic principles for Community Centres:

Visible Presence

Is your Centre visible both from a distance and up close? Does it stand out with colour, creativity, movement and diversity, that catches the eye and interest of passers-by whether on foot or on private or public transport?

Clear Function

Is there clear signage that says what your building is, what it offers inside, and for whom? Is the signage engaging or does it look overly formal or institutional? Is signage visible from a distance as well as including more detailed information close-up?

Welcoming

Does your Centre create a good first impression? Does it effuse warmth and welcome – through words, images, colour, language, sound – that invites interest from all in the community regardless of age, gender, culture and ability?

Accessible

Is your Centre easy to get to and get through? Is the front entrance easily visible? Are pathways to the entrance clearly defined and accessible to people of all abilities? Is there an easy route from carparks, bus stops or adjacent shops and buildings?

Safe

Does the area feel safe? Is the outside area clean and free of litter? Can people see signs of life inside the building so it doesn’t look empty and cold? Are there bushes or possible predatory spaces that are close to the entrance?

Do vehicles dominate pedestrian use of the space, or prevent pedestrians from easily getting to the entrance?

Active

Is the outside space being used or is it empty and quiet? Are seats conveniently located so people can choose to sit together? Are there outdoor areas that offer protection from sun and rain? Are there activities occurring day and night and on weekends that attract interest and engagement from passers-by?

Is your Centre visible both from a distance and up close? Does it stand out with colour, creativity, movement and diversity, that catches the eye and interest of passers-by whether on foot or on private or public transport?

Why Should We Placemake?

Because Community Centres have a philosophical and ethical commitment to be inclusive to all! Indeed that is one of the requirements of CCSA membership. However, our built environment can be a barrier to inclusivity.

Traditionally, Centres focus on inclusivity inside our centres. But the outside of the building itself, and its surrounding space can strongly influence who enters our centre. If we are not seeking to engage more widely and diversely, or facilitate participation day as well as night, or reach those who we’ve not yet connected with, then arguably we are not as inclusive as we could be.

Placemaking is another tool that helps us to be inclusive, to engage with our communities, and to create spaces that are places for all– “It takes a place to create a community and a community to create a place”.

(Source: https://www.pps.org/about)

Feeling overwhelmed? Don’t be! – Placemaking can be achieved through low-cost, small-scale projects (temporary or permanent) that have immediate impact and ongoing benefits.

They can include wall, pathway or driveway murals, paste-ups, creative signage, hanging installations, seating, community pianos, street libraries, pop-up events and so much more. And they’re a lot of fun!

Getting Started

Tips and ideas on how to start your placemaking journey

Placemaking Journeys So Far

Read about our placemaking journeys with community centres so far

Further Information

Contact CCSA to learn more about placemaking and your community
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“If you do not step forward you will always be in the same place.”