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NEXT.cc is an eco web that develops ethical imagination and environmental stewardship. NEXT.cc introduces what design is, what design does and why design is important through over 100 journeys.

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Placemaking

“When a space becomes more than the sum of its parts, it becomes a place.”

Public life needs public spaces. Placemaking is a design tool that creates a sense of ownership in a public place by attracting and connecting people to a specific location. While space is defined as an area, a place is an attraction and a destination. Without public space there is no public life. Most cities are defined by their public spaces. Public spaces often grow to symbolize a community, a city or an entire society’s identity. A special unique character and identity is what differentiates one place from another. A place is a space with personality! Successful places attract us, engage us, allow us to socialize with friends and frame our memories. Successful places offer a range of things to do for all ages of people and derive their character from local history, local materials and local culture. How does a space become a place? Placemaking is a community-building exercise envisioning new uses and ways to engage people. Placemaking could be the design of a park, a street, a plaza, or a playground. Placemaking attempts to create spaces that are safe, accessible, diverse and memorable. Successful Placemaking improves specific sites throughout communities and stimulates greater social interaction between people in a community. What is your favorite place?

Activity 1 Evaluate a Place

Think of, visit and document two places in the city you live in. Draw the plan in your journal and take a panoramic photograph or make a sketch of your public place. Note all of the elements that are present like trees, gardens, lights, artwork, etc. Don’t forget the people! Next create a chart of at least ten activities to evaluate. Start with the following list and add your own qualifiers. Grade the places on a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being outstanding and 1 being terrible. Rate your places according to their success in providing an identity within your community and ability to provide a place for your community to meet. Create a poster and a write a paragraph about your most favorite and least favorite public place.

Safety
Accessibility
Active functions
Passive functions
Activities for young children
Activities for high school students
Activities for parents
Activities for seniors
Seating
Shelter
Shade Trees
Gardens
Water Elements
Educational
Entertaining
Historical
Character

What could you propose to improve your public places? Make a list!

Activity 2 Placemake Your Playground

One common public place is the school playground. What happens here? What are the active and passive functions? Who uses the playground? What happens when school is not in session? Who uses it then? What is the character of the playground? Create a survey for teachers, students and neighbors of the playground. Develop a few questions and ask them what they like and do not like about the existing playground place. Make a list of possible new uses that could be introduced to the playground such as game tables (like chess or domino tables), ping pong tables, a music pavilion, ice skating rink, map area, water fountain, garden area, or simple areas for grass and trees. Hand out and then collect your surveys to discover the most common requests to improve your playground. Be sure to include your teachers and your principal in your survey.

Activity 3 Propose a New Community Place

Take a walk around your community. Are there any unused lots, corners or triangles that would serve well as a new public place? What is missing as a place to gather in your community? Find a place that has partial enclosures: street, buildings, and landscape. These locations are great for placemaking because they are already partially defined. Locate and create an entry point. Consider areas of sun, shade, wind and water. Include places to look, sit, and places to interact; remember to consider space needed for circulation to move into, around and through the new place. Use pattern and landscape to differentiate areas. Prepare some ideas using drawings and a photo collage. Name and label your ideas for your public place.

Review

  1. 1. Placemaking

  2. 2. The power of ten in Placemaking refers to:

  3. 3. Which is not a key quality of a successful place?

  4. 4. A place is always a space but a space is not always a place.

  5. 5. Place and space mean the same thing.

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