Week 6: Behavioural Mapping and Placemaking

By Tracy Li + Brett Hannah

Week 6 of the studio began with a site visit to undertake behavioural mapping. This was a key method of data collection that most students identified as part of their methodology and, as such, was completed as a class activity.

Studio 2 delved into the process of placemaking, with professional guests Elissa McMillan (Associate – CoDesign Studio) and Ammon Beyerle (Here Studio) providing their insights into the concept of placemaking. The week ended with personal work and preparation for interviewing and other data collection on Week 7.

Behavioural Mapping

As mentioned, the process of behavioural mapping as a data collection technique was almost unanimously agreed as a technique to be used by all students. The reason for this is well described as: “environments designed without knowledge of their future users fail to provide optimum conditions for the inhabitants” (Sanoff & Coates, 1971, pp. 227).

While doing behaviour mapping, I found that recording the flow of people was quite difficult. From my experience (figure 1), just marking a short arrow to represent the direction of movement didn’t show interactions between people.

Raw Behaviour Mapping

My partner, Jiing, traced routes with longer arrows, expressing more interactions and greater detail. Next time, I would like to improve my method to clearly identify the interactions.

Some of my expectations regarding behaviours, such as people sitting under trees, did not occur while I recorded behaviour, which I found interesting.

The concept of placemaking was highlighted at the start of this Studio, based on existing knowledge. Hearing from two professionals regarding this concept provided some important points to consider.

Elissa identified the following key focus points:

  • Distinction between hardware (buildings and objects) and software (people and use)
    • Focus of placemaking should be on software.
  • Work locally and enable community-led interventions.
  • Ensure resilience and sustainability of the intervention.

Additionally, Ammon identified three points of focus for placemaking, including:

  • Tangible knowledge
    • Sharing of knowledge and hand skills.
  • Make places through events
    • Moments that bring people together.
  • Community development and engagement
    • Community understanding the asset prior to using it.


Throughout the process of this Studio, we have understood the importance of community engagement, and ensuring the voices and actions of those living within and using the study area are considered in our plan. This provides a reason we all considered behavioural mapping and interview consultation as important methods in our research.

I found the investigation into placemaking very interesting. As planners, it can be easy to think that we are giving people the best option. However, without understanding what the community want and need, as well as giving them the tools to use it effectively, even the best plans may fail.

For me, it reinforced the importance of taking the community on the ride from start to finish in the planning process. A plan is more likely to succeed with community input and support.


Hansoff, H & Coates, G 1971, ‘Behavioural mapping’, An ecological analysis of activities in a residential setting, International Journal of Environmental Studies, Vol. 2, No. 1-4, pp. 227-235

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