Placemaking and the importance of public spaces

Communities should take a collaborative hands-on approach to building spaces that are multi-functional, personal and interactive. This is what ‘placemaking’ is all about.

Placemaking inspires people to collectively reimagine and reinvent public spaces as the heart of every community. Strengthening the connection between people and the places they share, Placemaking refers to a collaborative process by which we can shape our public realm in order to maximize shared value. [Project for Public Spaces]

Every part of a development takes time, money and design and should therefore be used to their full potential. At the heart of placemaking, is the reinvention of public spaces as a gathering of people. What attracts people, is other people.
This concept of placemaking is actually not a new one, it was initially born in the 1960s with urban planning activist Jane Jacobs, and started becoming part of development and urban design lingo in the 1990s. Developed in 1975, the Project for Public Spaces is now the global movement for placemaking, setting the stage for many of the innovations and ideas behind it.
Because of these groups and visionaries, now we see many local government and community associations inviting residents to be part of the planning and design process of public spaces. In Calgary, we’ve had many successful projects birthed from this concept of placemaking, like Bow to Bluff and ContainR.
When developers and City planners allow citizens to be involved in the process, they can innovate and create spaces void of many common problems like high-traffic streets, under-utilized parks, etc.
When development is taking place within your community, or on a community that hasn’t started construction yet, there are a number of ways you can provide input:

  • Join your community association: did you know there are over 150 community associations in Calgary? Join your association and join newsletters in your neighbourhood to become aware of engagement opportunities.
  • Check the City of Calgary online: check out the City online, where invitations to open houses, public information sessions or feedback opportunities are posted all the time.
  • Take part in surveys: for large developments that will affect an entire community, surveys are often sent out to residents for feedback.

We have even more ideas for getting involved in community development and planning, and you can learn more about placemaking online here.