Placemaking Summit 2021

23-24 November 2021
Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Centre
Melbourne, VIC

Place making: The Simple Idea Behind Giant Games, Lots of Chairs and Adult Playgrounds

Posted On August 29, 2019

In the world of place making, walkability is paramount and children are described as "fantastic binding agents".

Dean Cracknell admits it's a wafty term but a simple idea.

"[Place making] is like if you imagine moving into a new home, the whole house is empty and you walk in and work out where everything is going to go," he told ABC Radio Perth Focus.

"Place making is about turning a space into a place that people really enjoy, and they want to hang out there with friends and relax."

Mr Cracknell is the chief executive of Town Teams, a not-for-profit organisation that assists West Australian communities to build town centres.

"If you can imagine those beautiful town squares in Europe where people congregate and gather, that is really place making and in some respects we forgot how to do that."

Space to play or pause, M to mute, left and right arrows to seek, up and down arrows for volume.

But unlike deciding where to put the sofa and the TV in a new home, often urban place making has more urgent economic demands and involves a lot more furniture.

Urban planner Ray Haeren said he regularly worked with large shopping centres that wanted to attract more visitors in a difficult economic climate.

"It's about understanding the way that people shop and work is changing," Mr Haeren said.

"If you want to bring people into your centre, you need to have a reason for them to go there.

"Competing with online shopping means that convenience is not going to be the key driver; you need to have an experience.

Mr Haeren said helping redevelop a shopping mall in Perth's northern suburbs meant making it a place to go out, rather than just go to the shops.

"They got in some more food and beverage outlets and a microbrewery, expanded the cinemas and put in bowling, so it became a place to go and recreate and then you might do some shopping while there," he said.

"It is not all about getting the chains; you need some bespoke local eateries and that sense of authenticity or it won't connect with the local population."

Universities are also embracing place making to attract students.

"We need a point of difference," Hillary Lambert, portfolio manager of place activation at Curtin University, said.

"It's become about recruitment and retention and liveability, and it has transformed the experience that people are having on campus."

Ms Lambert said she started with a food truck program.

"We have 130 different countries where our students are from, so we are tailoring those food types to what people are used to having at home.

"That gives them comfort and belonging and also gets them outside and talking to each other."

The university has also added bean bags outdoors and a giant human billiard table for students to kick a ball around.

'Everywhere needs to get better'

A sense of fun, with places for people to sit, talk and meet, are a key part of place making.

So are giant places to play.

Mr Haeren likes playgrounds because "you get kids but also mothers. People start to meet and interact," he said.

David Snyder, from place making consultancy Spaced Out, has created a large-scale human foosball board that can be set up at street festivals.

"It's something that everyone can do, and it can go anywhere as long as it is flat space," Mr Snyder said.

For Mr Cracknell, the Town Teams place making work is less about building profit and more concerned with increasing community interaction in town centres.

"You really want to be part of a community and know your local shopkeepers, to relax and see friends," he said.

"Everywhere needs to get better and that is where place making comes in.

"It doesn't have to be big or expensive either; often it might just be putting out chairs that are nice to sit in and are under shade."

Listeners to ABC Radio Perth said they most valued the opportunity to interact with people in their community and be closer to nature.

It might be simple, but as local high streets struggle with dwindling spending and reduced activity on the street, it's vital, Mr Cracknell said.

"This is not just nice to have, it's something we need to be doing.

"From a local government perspective, it's good for economic development, it's good for healthy communities, it's good for community development."


Source: ABC News

Image Source: ABC News


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23-24 November 2021

Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Centre
Melbourne, VIC



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