Sustaining Cities: Urban Policies, Practices, and Perceptions

By Linda Krause | Go to book overview

THE ART OF
PLACE-MAKING

Georgia Butina Watson

Many people today, throughout the world, seem to feel that any place, be it city or neighborhood, should have its own distinctive character, its own place identity. In an ever globalizing world, once regionally inflected built form—the kind of environment that signaled the uniqueness of a place—is no longer a given. Now, urban designers, planners, architects, landscape architects, politicians, and people from all walks of life are investigating how to achieve distinctive and positive place identities. Such places, it is argued here, are rooted in the past but are also evolving and changing to meet different cultural and societal needs. The process through which such places are shaped is called the art of place-making.

This essay first addresses the issues of local distinctiveness and place identity, and how we can achieve these through planning and design processes. A number of theories that underpin the conceptualizations of local distinctiveness, as well as place identity and its relation to our sense of personal and group identity, are discussed. The essay next proposes a conceptual framework for analyzing places from the identity perspective, and illustrates, through a case study of Angell Town, Brixton (London), how we can work collaboratively to pursue the art of place-making that creates a sense of place identity for resident users.

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