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Placemaking as the cheese

Placemaking is like the cheese on the city-making pizza.

People have a wide range of tastes and like different kinds of flavours and combinations.

The critical ingredient is always the #pizza cheese. It turns an otherwise dry and unappetising pizza base into something delicious. It covers the base, connects the ingredients and can be adjusted to suit any taste. There’s even vegan cheese! Trying to make a delicious pizza without any cheese and with only one or two toppings on a plain base just wouldn’t work! It’s like a plane without wings.

It's pretty much the same with #urban spaces. Every place and every group of people is different. The pizza base is the place in this analogy. The secret is to find out what flavours and ingredients work best for its physical, cultural, social, economic and environmental context.

Getting into a positive place cycle

Placemaking can help a place break out of a negative spiral.

We have all been to places that don't feel good. An air of despondency and negativity rises like a morning mist.

People feel frustrated at first, because they care about the place. Over time, this can turn to #apathy and #disempowerment. They are looking for "someone" to do "something", not realising that everyone could be #someone, particularly by working together.

Placemaking isn't a magic wand to solve all problems. But it can help a place to improve, build positive momentum and create collaborations. It can also help good places to become #greatplaces.

Placemaking Action Week

Placemaking Action Week starts today!

It runs from October 3 to October 9 2022.

Placemaking is not just about the physical changes in a space, it's all about the way people think about themselves, their role in society and how they connect with people around them.

Find out more about how you can get involved in Placemaking Action Week at

Place Masterplanning compared with Place Enabling

Place Masterplanning and Place Enabling are two different mindsets and approaches to creating #greatplaces.

Preparing a place #masterplan is the traditional and most common method. We compare it with the #place #enabling approach in the graphic below.

What's interesting is #who is #responsible for delivering the actions to improve the place, where the time and efforts are focused (internal or external?) and what happens after the process is finished.

Neither approach is perfect and it depends on the context, desired outcomes, budget and ground level opportunities and challenges involved. However, all things considered, we generally suggest that the place enabling approach should be considered first as it better aligns to a #placemaking ethos and mindset.

It shouldn't be a cut and paste either! The Victorian Government's Place-based approaches framework suggests that - "Every place-based approach is, by definition, unique to the place it is targeting."

We go into far more detail on masterplanning and place enabling in the 'Placemaking: making it happen in local governments' and 'Placemaking in State Governments' online courses accessible via -

What to do with empty office space?

Re-post from Project for Public Spaces -

What to do with empty downtowns? Start with "Lighter, Quicker, Cheaper" changes.


Not more work ..

"Not more work ...". The biggest secret that most governments don't yet understand is that #placemaking doesn't have to be more work. Sometimes, it can mean less work.

This could be a popular message for your busy colleagues! We include tips, ideas and ways to put this into action, plus simple and practical examples in the Placemaking: making it happen in local governments course. Placemaking: making it happen in local governments course.

#doless #achievemore

Placemaking is not a "nice to have", it's a "must do!

"Placemaking ... ? Sure, if we get some extra budget and it doesn't get in the way of the real work, we could do some ... placemaking".
#Placemaking can be perceived of as a "nice to have", particularly by governments with "more important things to do".

This view completely misses the purpose and opportunities that placemaking offers. Our online courses feature whole lessons on why it is a "must do", particularly in these times.

Placemaking is important because it both challenges the existing structures, cultures and mindsets of #governments, and provides a practical, cost-effective and implementable approach that can be tailored for each context and community.

Placemaking also challenges and provides opportunities for #residents#landowners and #businesses to be active contributors, rather than passive (and sometimes negative) consumers of government services (the ratepayer mindset).

It provides healthsocialgovernance and economic benefits that we further detail in our courses. Placemaking focuses on what really matters in our lives - people and places.

As Ethan Kent from PlacemakingX says:

"The future of thriving and resilient cities is not led by sustaining or innovating around infrastructure and services, but by building the capacity of communities to drive their own shared value to sustain Placemaking.

Cities are not going to effectively compete with each other by just developing better physical infrastructure, but by creating great places ...

Placemaking shouldn't be any one's job, it should be everyone's job."

Find out more at

Are you managing the place to life?

Or to death?

Are you managing the place to life? Or are you managing it to death? asks urban #innovator Andy Sharp.

#Places as #Machines
The scientific and industrial revolutions considered the world as a being like a huge, complicated, but ultimately understandable clock.
This mindset sees industrial processes and machinery as the way to manage and deliver. It strongly influences the way governments and many businesses are structured. The engineering-based terms used to describe how things are done reveals how deeply this thinking dominates: inputs, outputs, processes, efficiency, effectiveness and scaling.
This mindset heavily influences the way cities are developed and managed, and by extension, places and communities. See a problem? Pull a lever or tweak a setting!

#Places as #Systems
Ecosystems such as rainforests and coral reefs are complex. A complex ecosystem can’t be fully understood using linear thinking and processes. Places are just as complex when you really think about it.
Systems thinking not only suggests a different mindset and approach, but also to be mindful of the language used, which can subconsciously affect your thinking.
Instead of engineering-based language, such as inputs, outputs and processes, systems thinking uses ideas such as #relationships#connections#networks and #collaboration.
The systems approach encourages governments to #allow and #enable change more often, and do less of the #making and #preventing change.
As a long-term thinker, the gardener (government) seeks to sustain and regenerate her organic garden. The gardener should curate and nurture the right conditions to allow many types of plants, animals and fungi to thrive and collaborate.
Sometimes a gardener’s role is to stand back and watch the garden grow, intervening at the right time and season to enable her plants to grow. Doing less can enable more growth in the right situations.

If you'd like to learn more about Places as Machines and Places as Systems, check out our placemaking courses