In The Making

The principles of successful placemaking


“Without great public places,
there would be no great cities”.


Places Establish Identity

Without great public places, there would be no great cities. The skating rink and the other public spaces around Rockefeller Center are one of the most-visited tourist attractions in New York City. People travel thousands of miles to experience such revered places as the Piazza San Marco in Venice, the Champs Élysées in Paris, Las Ramblas in Barcelona, Central Park in New York, Covent Garden, Trafalgar Square and Carnaby Street, others need only walk down the street to find places they cherish. Great public spaces can be world-renowned, or they can be important because the people in a particular neighbourhood value them.

Develop the vision into a tangible set of messages that influence and shape a place from how it is described to how it will be used and what it will contribute.

Establishing the core values, proposition and essence of a place at the outset will help ensure the vision is achieved. Stakeholders will buy into this if correctly articulated. This also ensures the original essence of a place isn’t lost over time, through dilution or misinterpretation. Like a successful place, the vision can flex and adapt but should stay true to its original idea.

Essential to a vision for any public space is an idea of what kinds of activities might happen there. The space should be comfortable and have a good image and should be an important place where people want to be. A great vision should instil a sense of pride in the people who live, work and play there.

The Right Mix And Variety

The mix of building types and uses is what creates the character of a great place. The best cities in the world, such as London, have grown organically over centuries and have a rich and diverse blend of architecture, scale, use and cultures. Whilst recreating London is not a realistic vision for place making, there is so much that can be learned and applied from great cities. Variety and diversity enable places to thrive and grow through the people who use them, each contributing to the place’s personality.

Community Engagement

In order for a place to become successful it must connect with the community for whom it is intended.

Connecting with the ultimate audience early in the planning stages will ensure a place becomes relevant and wanted. Be willing to listen, to be inspired and pleasantly surprised by a community - they are likely to have known the area for a lot longer and have real life experiences and knowledge of what will be successful.

Develop Partnerships

The best places are achieved through collaboration. Develop partnerships with stakeholders and contributors. Demonstrating your willingness to collaborate will encourage others to become involved and bring their own input into creating a successful place.



Establish the place in the hearts and minds.

Establish the place in the hearts and minds of the community before development is complete. Creating familiarity with a place prior to or during development will make it much easier to draw people in once development is completed. There are many meanwhile uses that can be adopted and they can be as simple as creating a pathway to enable people to pass through a new place, connecting other locations. Alternatively it could be uses that are the reason to visit a place. Whatever it is, give it time to grow on people and become familiar.

Treat each phase as the


or the whole will lose sight of who it is.


Multiple phase development presents several challenges to the art of placemaking. It is important not to hold off until the final phase to implement a sense of place. Each phase of development should be approached as if it is the whole, creating its own sense of identity. Incorporating public space and access into each phase creates places people can use and develop a positive association with during development.


“Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”

World Commission on Environment and Development
(The Brundtland Commission)

The focus of sustainable development is far broader than the environment. It’s about ensuring a strong and healthy society: Meeting the diverse needs of people in existing and future communities, promoting personal well-being, social cohesion and inclusion and creating equal opportunity.

In terms of placemaking this is the creation of socially acceptable and welcoming places, environments where people feel comfortable and make use of.


Great Public Realm

Quality public realm will engage people in the right way.

Quality public realm sets the tone of a development. It plays a huge part in creating a sense of place, enhancing values and demonstrating the vision for a place. The right designs encourage people to meet and dwell, which in turn create a sense of place, a place where people want to be.


Close Management

with a vision and ability to deliver.

Creation of a successful place transcends its physical development. A planned management and maintenance structure must be in place to ensure a place stands the tests of time and continues to be successful and desired. A management team with the vision and ability to deliver an effective and relevant program of events and activity is essential.

DS.Emotion DS.Emotion


Fundamental to the success of a place.

Communication with both stakeholders and the wider community is fundamental to the success of a place. To create a successful place stakeholders must be engaged from the outset and kept enthused throughout planning and implementation process. Potential users of a place must be able to understand the space and its benefits.

All this is achieved through a planned strategic approach, which ensures a place adds value to both the wider development and community.

How do we put in
place the principles of

Through our proven process of discovery and stakeholder engagement, which has delivered success time and time again, we identify what is defining or unique about a place. Discovery of the role of a place and its proposition are our starting points. Refinement of these discoveries into key values and the essence of a place are what defines the vision and provides a unifying proposition for all stakeholders to buy into.

Identifying a places true personality and communication of this to the target audience drives awareness and affinity.

Over many years we have helped our clients develop the personality for new places and turn around existing environments. We have created successful and sustainable places for urban districts, out of town business and retail parks and entire new communities.

place making