Any successful urban space in a city has lots of factors attached to it. Spaces speak and portray some characters that create a certain experience for the user. Placemaking is one of the phenomenons that look after such character of the urban space. It is an approach to the planning, design, and management of public spaces. A multi-faceted aspect in itself, with the intention of creating public spaces that promote people’s health, happiness, and well-being. Placemaking helps to tap into the local community’s talent and promote the aspirations and potential of the people.

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The identity of the place is predominantly the culture that is prevailing there and the political ideology governing it. Placemaking in urban design makes use of both a process and a philosophy. It could be various levels like government-led, or community-driven or plain and simple grassroots tactical urbanism. A successful placemaking makes use of underutilized space to enhance the experience at the pedestrian scale to local level plans.

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Some of the major thinking behind Placemaking gained traction in the 1960s when thinkers like Jane Jacobs and William H. Whyte introduced ideas about designing cities for people and not just for capitalist structures and cars. Their work mainly focuses on the importance of lively neighborhoods; its social and cultural fabric and inviting public spaces. Jacobs in her book (death and life of American cities) encouraged the now-famous idea of “eyes on the street,” and encouraged everyday citizens to take ownership of streets.

What makes a place great?

Taking an example of Delhi’s successful urban spaces, let’s analyze the place-making strategies. Most great places, whether a grand plaza or humble neighborhood park, share four key attributes:

1. They are accessible and well connected to other important places in that area

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Lodhi garden falls in the center of Lodhi district, making it a nice walk, helping people meander through history and openness, and avoid the hustle-bustle of the main streets.

2. They are comfortable and project a good image

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Connaught Place is used by multiple people, not just because it’s a Business District, but because it is a comfortable place of all user groups to use and access. It is inclusive and well connected, and unlike various other CBDs, it is well maintained and developed. The place makes a good first impression, with as many women as men using the space. There enough places to sit with seats conveniently located. People have a choice of places to sit, either in the sun or shade and the spaces mostly are clean and free of litter.

3. They attract people to participate in activities there

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Raahgiri India gave streets of Delhi and Gurgaon, an opportunity to make them space instead of just a means of connectivity. It gave an opportunity for the people to use the space. It was used by people of different ages. Different types of activities are occurring at one time, people walking, eating, playing baseball, chess, relaxing, doing yoga. There was a management presence, which helped smooth the functioning of the space.

4. They are sociable environments in which people want to gather and Visit again and again

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Vishwa Vidyalaya metro station is flocked by people all throughout the day, they gather there, as most students can’t afford extravagant lifestyle on a day to day basis, making it a hotspot for local vendors to sell mobile accessories notebooks, momos, Maggi and various student life-related products making it a very happy social space.

What are the principles of placemaking?

A good placemaking plan must work to integrate diverse opinions into a cohesive vision. It should translate that vision of the people, and place into a plan and ensure the sustainable implementation of the plan.

To turn a shared vision into a reality–into a truly great place– requires the patience to take small steps, and see what works best in a particular context, and space. Placemaking can be done through various strategies where any street, edge, node or landmark can be highlighted to gain people’s attention.

Placemaking possess immense potential to convert a dead unsafe place into a successful urban space. This can be done by just intervening through a function, adding colors, or culturally enhancing the value of that space.

Conclusion

Hence we can easily say, Placemaking is Community-driven, with a certain Vision. It always places function before form. It is Adaptable, Inclusive, and Focused on creating destinations. It is as discussed above Context-specific, Dynamic, and Trans-disciplinary.

It has a Transformative ability. It promotes Flexibility in its approach; it is Collaborative and promotes an aspect of Social spaces, viable to all.

Placemaking is not a top-down approach, it is Reactionary to the only problem, but caters to multiple aspects creating that certain hurdle. It is not a copy-paste solution, or tried design it is problem-centric, and cannot have a blanket solution or quick fix. It is not exclusionary, Car-centric, mass produces, One-size-fits-all design. It is not dependent on regulatory controls and surely not a cost/benefit analysis.

Architectural Journalist

Rethinking The Future

New Delhi

Aarushi Gupta is a practicing Architect and Urban Designer who is fascinated by Indian cities and their culture. Born and brought up in Delhi, she has experienced the transformation the city has undergone and how it is adapting the change. She loves to capture the small yet powerful transitions that solves the issues of common people. Writing about cities is one of her dreams that she's going to fulfill through RTF.

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