Place Agency visits the World Urban Forum @WUF9
Place Agency piloted its’ Placemaking Sandbox workshop to a diverse range of participants as part of the 9th World Urban Forum held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on the 9th of February 2018. This workshop was a collaborative project involving the Melbourne Sustainable Society Institute and in partnership with the Think City, Action for Children’s Environment, Place Leaders Asia Pacific, and Slum Dwellers International.
The Placemaking Sandbox is a capacity building tool that trains professionals and experts, as well as empowering the emerging workforce, to develop skills and knowledge in how to do the basics of placemaking.
Children and women from grass-root organisations from 28 countries representing 40 organisations were engaged in an experiential, participatory and creative “fun and play” design thinking exercise. Focusing on creating future public spaces as places that can cater for the needs of women and young people, the workshop focused on answering the question of how “a place where young people/women can have fun, feel safe, and make new friends” looks like?
A common thread amongst the different groups’ discussion was the promotion of safe, inclusive, accessible, green and quality public spaces, including water features as a particular aspect of place. Participants also noted that barriers to such a place included lack of open space as well as the integration of natural materials and systems.
One group mentioned the need to activate space at different times of the day, and the need for temporal activation also required a different approach in space activation in the morning, at midday and in the evening. It was also noted that public spaces in a tropical climate would require different treatment and elements as those in less warm climates.
As a result of our piloting workshop we have been able to group these responses to develop a framework for successful placemaking endeavours that consists of four critical and interrelated dimensions of place: physical space, self (single individual), the community(ies) and nature. While social theories of place attachment and social cohesion support the two social and physical dimensions of our framework, ‘nature’ has been largely ignored in placemaking practice. Given that multiple fields of knowledge have shown the benefits of nature for both physical and mental health, our framework integrates these body of knowledge and emphases the ecological aspects on place as critical to people’s well-being and their affective connections with place.