Placemaking refers to the planning, design, and management of public spaces. By using assets found within the local community, potential and inspiration, the approach promotes people’s well-being. Cristina Kelly and Vedran Dzebic of experimental design studio Entro discusses an interesting approach to placemaking in their last Lean in Session with The Australian Institute of Architects (2020). By considering principles of the WELL standard and using cognitive neuroscience, they examine how to celebrate culture and place, foster human delight and encourage positive behaviour through their design of places.
Kelly and Dzebic explore how designing purposefully increases the user’s understanding, emotions and overall experience of a space. Human behaviour is directly influenced by the way we design, and by making people feel better, it can encourage people to make better decisions. Smart design can nudge people into a certain behaviour without implicitly doing so, and without taking away their feeling of control.
Nature is a continuous source of inspiration in architecture. As humans we have a strong connection to nature, it is shown to reduce stress, increase productivity and overall positive human behaviour. In design, using colours, contours from natural shapes within built forms are shown to create a positive environmental effect on humans.
The overall takeaway to the process of placemaking is that the designer must understand the need of the client, and how the client will understand the place once completed. The initial discovery phase is crucial to establish the intent, context and use of the space.
Design should help make our complex, mediated environment more digestible, simple, and understandable. With the rapidly changing society that we live in, it is more important than ever to consider how placemaking can foster human well-being.