Moving on to the next theme, Placemaking plays an important part in our society. Placemaking is rooted in community participation. This event discussed the work of Placemaking in Mexico, Brazil and Nepal. On January 26th 2023, several Placemakers shared their work and spoke about the importance of being physically involved and represented in building in our communities.
Placemaking Mexico introduced the concept of Colour Courts. This projects involved areas in Mexico which could be utilized as a playing court to encourage the community to participate and socialise with one another. The concept was to redesign unused or stagnant spaces to introduce a new lively dynamic to the nearing neighbourhood.
Placemaking is not just about the concept of design, it is about “community” designs of shared spaces. It is about involving people in designing and personalising their community and their public space. In two months, Placemaking Mexico had repainted 9 courts in 7 states in Mexico. In total, over 63 thousand people benefitted from this remodelling. The project design focused on accessibility, community contact and LQC actions which involve the needs of the community.
However, Placemaking is not exactly an easy construction project. Indeed, there were a few challenges that they faced when designing the courts. Mainly, the biggest challenge was the accessibility of the area that needed to be redesigned. This is because the courts may be in remote, dangerous or swampy areas. In fact, one court was entirely swamped.
Another challenge was the necessity for the designs to reflect the community’s needs. For instance, Placemaking Mexico had to take into account the intentions of designing the courts. Transforming a former parking lot to a play court activates the community and feeds liveliness into the community as the court is not only a physical transformation but also a communal and sentimental transformation.
Placemaking Nepal is a collective of Placemakers such as architects, artists, planners and researchers. Their goal is to design equitable shared places for the community. Placemaking Nepal stated that we often focus on the hardware parts of the spaces. They are a relatively new branch of Placemaking which tries its best to spread awareness on Placemaking through seminars and activities that involve their communities.
One of their most successful campaigns was the Women in the City Walkshop.
The concept of this Walkshop stems from the fact that men and women share their physical spaces in the community, but each have their unique challenges, intentions and opportunities. This campaign involved women walking in the cities of Nepal, to raise awareness on how their societies utilise their public spaces. Whether it be a bus stop, the cross road or a parking lot, we can see the different perception men and women have in these shared spaces. For example, it was highly reported by women in the Walkshop that the perception of the lack of safety in public spaces and mobilities such as in bus stops heavily impacts women’s perceptions and socioeconomic opportunities as safety is a prerequisite for them when transporting to work.
The campaign was successful in garnering positive discourse and awareness, from both men and women, on how their communities are affected by accessibility in day to day transportation , whether by foot or a vehicle.
Placemaking and tactical urbanism are not largely recognized by the people in Brazil, as people are struggling to be a part of a large country which perpetuates the historical inequality they face. It is important to state that Brazilian people are tactical and pragmatic in facing their harsh reality. The culture of governing their space faces may issues such as the climate and the housing crisis. One goal of Placemaking Brazil is to mobilize tactical urbanism and to popularize engaging the community in designing their communal space. Another goal is to bring back the dialogue of urbanism and space designing in governing and the Brazilian culture.
In one of their projects, Placemaking Brazil proposed to local governments to occupy and host activities in abandoned public spaces in Brazil. The aim was to engage and activate the community around these abandoned spaces. It was essential to be creative in the activities that they hosted to involve as many people as they could, and equally as important was inviting the local community, universities and the Placemakers to share their thoughts and express their needs and wants of their community. Placemaking Brazil firmly believes that hosting these communal activities which encourage people to share their ideas had aided in starting a larger conversation with different governments to activate other abandoned places such as historical sites and old train terminals.
In the humanitarian spirit of Placemaking and community building, as issue Placemaking Brazil is tackling is the homeless’ accessibility to water. With the full support of local governments, they were able to provide drinking water in neighborhoods where homelessness is prevalent. As many people still live in the slums of Brazil, access to clean water is crucial to their livelihoods. Placemaking Brazil sought the opportunity to provide a clear flow of water in some neighborhoods and other larger cities.
It must be said that our human rights are very tangible when we examine our day to day lives. Our need for a healthy, lively and growing communities is essential for our development as human beings.