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Placetesting & placemaking

Meaningful places are created together

“Cities have the capability of providing something for everybody, only because, and only when, they are created by everybody.” – Jane Jacobs

Urbanist and activist Jane Jacobs expresses this eloquently in the ‘60s: cities are created by everyone. That is the only way to make a city that offers added value to residents, businesses and visitors.

Placemaking is often used to revitalise a city’s ‘forgotten’ places. Short-term and generic interventions are increasingly implemented under the umbrella of placemaking. Pop-ups with no direct ties with the space’s current identity or vision for the future vanish when redevelopment work begins. And that is a wasted opportunity!

This is why we introduced the concept of ‘placetesting’ at the beginning of 2020, as a counterpart to these – often well-meaning – temporary projects.

When do you choose placetesting?

These days if you want people to connect with a place, it needs to tick a lot of boxes. Placetesting is an opportunity for entrepreneurs, residents and local social organisations to test their initiatives and concepts for a brief time.

Working closely with local actors you identify what the place needs; a widely supported vision of the future fuelled by the neighbourhood’s unique character. Taking this as your guide you develop and implement a plan to test the ideas in the public space. With a successful placetest, users often adopt the concept. And ideas become a part of the site’s regular programme. Ultimately, placetesting is about creating a concept and an intervention that flows naturally with the neighbourhood’s identity, current trends, and users’ needs.

Placetesting

The pop-up city park on the Grotekerkplein is a great example of a successful placetest. Here, we transformed an unremembered city square into a lively, welcoming place.

When do you choose placemaking?

In a nutshell, placemaking is all about collaborating with the ‘users’ to create a place that meets their needs, and strengthens the place’s unique identity. Whether it is a site scheduled for re-zoning, a neglected location or an entirely new area development, placemaking focuses on creating added value for users and the environment. Our projects home in on the unique DNA of the place and, in partnership with all stakeholders – from the local council to entrepreneurs and (new) residents – find ways to create vital communities. Our approach is heavily inspired by Jacob’s ideas.

What can BRAND The Urban Agency help you achieve?

We help municipalities, real estate owners, developers and placemakers to put these experiments into practice, develop new business models and enter into partnerships.

Would you like to learn more about placemaking and placetesting? Then read this blog by Rinske Brand about placemaking and placebranding.