What is placemaking?
Placemaking is a nuanced method of building deeper connections between people and the places they share through a careful approach to the planning, design and management of those places. Placemaking focuses on creating places that reflect the local community, while ideally creating a place that is socially inviting, has multiple uses and activities while being comfortable, safe and accessible.
Effective placemaking initiatives (whether they’re an example of large-scale strategic placemaking or small-scale creative placemaking) have the potential to reinvent a place and draw people into public spaces, improving urban vitality in the process. The best examples of placemaking, meanwhile, draw inspiration from the local area and its people in ways that are both unique and authentic.
Because of the correlation between visitation and economic activity in urban areas, effective placemaking can have powerful economic benefits for an area as well.
Perth Cultural Centre
Once a dry and unused public space in the heart of the city, the Perth Cultural Centre (PCC) is a powerful example of how Placemaking can quickly and simply rejuvenate a space. The institutions in the vicinity – the Art Gallery of Western Australia, the Film and Television Institute, the Western Australia Museum and the Perth Institute of Contemporary Art – were underrepresented in the public spaces outside their doors, creating a disparity between the vibrant attractions in the city centre and the public spaces that connect them.
Sandwiched between Perth Train Station and Northbridge, the original Perth Cultural Centre was vacuous and empty. However, some simple changes such as painting the PCC’s steps vibrant colours, adding shade and multifunctional furniture quickly transformed the space. Further additions like a native wetland, public art installations and a large screen further enhanced the space’s aesthetic and functionality for day-to-day use and regular public events.
Today, the PCC continues to evolve, and is now an integral cultural hub in the centre of Perth, showing how a placemaking project can activate a dormant space and invert the community’s perception and utilisation of it.