NW in 2018 | Demystifying placemaking

With developers from across the UK and the world working on Manchester’s new schemes, it’s now more important than ever for a holistic placemaking approachwrites Razi Riahi of DS Emotion.

The term ‘placemaking’ has become popular in urban development as a response to a gap in the current approach to making vibrant places. Today it is regarded as a vital approach and one that can have major benefits to the entire community, but many – working in and outside the property industry – are unsure exactly what ‘placemaking’ entails.

Good placemaking put simply, unites stakeholders and place users. Its outcome should create strategies that facilitate ongoing meaningful conversations between the two and ultimately create vibrant, meaningful and resilient places.

Secondly, good placemaking should speed up a place’s integration with its people. The natural growth of a place is usually between 10 – 15 years but placemaking strategies should aid to reduce this time significantly. Additionally, short-term strategies, including the use of more ‘trial and error’ concepts will ensure that any cultural, retail and leisure strategies are tested and relevant.

The idea of placemaking is not new but in the UK it’s gaining great momentum with more and more developers taking inspiration from our European cousins like Las Ramblas in Barcelona and Gamla Stan in Stockholm. The ultimate measure of a successful place is thriving communities that take ownership and participate in the ongoing delivery of the place’s vision.

Placemaking is about understanding and celebrating the uniqueness of each place, primarily by reconnecting people to their place. Places without people can’t survive and Argent’s Kings Cross is the placemaking pin-up of our time for strategically bringing together all of these elements.

Every place has its own unique set of challenges and opportunities. The key is forming strategies that work with these unique parameters to build on its strengths. Any end goal will have a short-term and long-term strategy that will ultimately position the place as an integral part of its city.

Developers in Manchester should build with placemaking in mind. To create new places with real community, its creators should differentiate themselves from their competitors and play to their site’s unique qualities. What is right for Piccadilly won’t necessarily be right in Salford.

We have a great opportunity to create friendly and welcoming communities that are connected and convenient, ensuring that Manchester becomes a globally recognised pin-up of its own.

  • Razi Riahi is strategy director for placemaking at DS Emotion

The North West in 2018 series features guest contributors looking ahead to next year and is published throughout December.

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