How Placemaking Is Becoming Indispensible For Developers

Original article published by 1 July 2015

As Australia’s population continues to surge upwards and higher density living becomes the norm, many architects and urban planners are focussing on ways to ensure that urban areas feel like real communities instead of concrete jungles.

This movement, which is known as “placemaking” is a multi-faceted approach to the planning, design and management of public spaces which aims to create public spaces that promote people’s health, happiness, and well-being.

Not surprisingly, it is a subject of increasing importance to developers because it can greatly affect buyers’ perceptions of a development.

According to international consultants Urbis, the influence of Placemaking can now be felt in all the traditional areas of place development, including masterplanning, urban design, social and economic development, community engagement, retail planning, arts and culture and sustainable development.

“The creation of authentic places in new communities is certainly challenging, but it’s all the more important in new communities than in other places because you are effectively starting from scratch, as opposed to remaking or reinventing an existing environment,” Urbis Director Glen Power wrote recently.

$500 million Darling Quarter mixed use placemaking project in Sydney.
$500 million Darling Quarter mixed use placemaking project in Sydney. Source:

“New communities also offer some unique opportunities to integrate best practice and innovative thinking, because in some ways, designers are less constrained than when planning around existing environments.”

The home of the modern placemaking movement is in the US, where New York’s High Line has become a popular poster child for Creative Placemaking.

Mr Power says that one of the things that stands out from his own work in Australia, is the importance of delivering public amenities early even if a project is delivered in stages.

“In the very first stages of developments, we are making sure that there are really great green spaces and environments that people can feel ownership of, and that most importantly, have relevance to that community,” he says.

“Traditionally, the combination of developing green space, education and retail has always been planned separately.”

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