From Outsideness to Insideness - Placemaking in Public Space
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This thesis originates from observations made in practice, giving rise to a curiosity about the conditions that encourage, or discourage, people to interact with public environments. It investigates the concept of placemaking with the aim of defining what placemaking means to architects and urban designers in theory and practice. It points at possibilities and consequences of the approach, and for whom. Placemaking is the simultaneous building of physical objects and relationships; relationships between people, and relationships between people and places. The theoretical core of the thesis strives to enrich the view on the built environment by adding the perspective of lifeworlds to the urban planning discourse. Five key concepts are used to describe this transformation process: place attachment, place outsideness, place insideness, involvement, and cocreation. Place attachment theory (section 2.2) – originating in environmental psychology – describes how affective bonds arise between people and specific places. The bond makes people want to stay close to, and care for, the places in question. What makes it particularly interesting in relation to architecture and urban planning is the idea of place meaning (section 3.1) arising through place related actions (i.e. through activities such as building, modifying, or using a built structure) rather than being attached to place as an object. The thesis focuses on how the character of built places (as opposed to natural environments), and the way in which they have been created and are being used, is related to the appearance of place attachment. Involvement in a place can be either selfconscious or unselfconscious. To explore this in relation to place belonging (section 2.2), geographer Edward Relph (1976) set up the dichotomy of place insideness and place outsideness. In short, place outsiders experience a place from a distance/as from above, while place insiders experience and understand it from within/in experience-based detail. Empathetic insideness, which is the level most interesting in the context of placemaking in public space, involves emotional engagement. It does not, however, signify ownership, but rather personal experience of a place and emotional engagement in it. In order to translate placemaking into something that practitioners (i.e. both professional and nonprofessional placemakers) can relate to, Matthew Carmona’s (2014) place-shaping continuum is used. He defines four place-shaping processes influencing a built environment: design, development, space-in-use, and management. These should not be considered as a series of isolated activities, but as one integrated process over time. Carmona further divides placemaking into knowing (the design and development phases) and unknowing (the use and management phases) place-shaping. His notions form an image of the entire placemaking process and show how places are shaped for, as well as through, use. Different actors can be active during different phases of the continuum. The idea of co-creation (section 2.2) transforms the user into a co-creator by active involvement on site in the creation process. Collaboration with others is central, as described by designer Ezio Manzini (2015). Co-creation is not merely about the distribution of decision making power, but as much about duration, intensity, and the possibility for social learning during a creation process. Based on the five key concepts two case studies were carried out. Pavement to Parks was initiated by the Mayor of San Francisco in 2008, and sought to temporarily transform underused street spaces into green public places. Each Pavement to Parks project is intended to be a public laboratory, testing new ideas together with the local communities. The programme tests new methods for urban development on two different scales: plazas (locations pointed out by the municipality) and parklets (locations chosen by the citizens). The second case study was in Berlin on two so called in-between use projects (Zwischennutzung) in Palast der Republik, the former government building of GDR. In 2004–2005 the building hosted a series of temporary, public events intended to explore new, alternative futures for the building and related place in collaboration with the Berliners. The two projects covered by the case study – Fassadenrepublik and Der Berg –were curated by professional architects and designers, with the aim of creating various scenarios for the future. In addition to the case studies and in order to gain access to realtime and insiders’ data from an entire placemaking process from the very first phase of ideation, an action research project was set up in Herrgården in Malmö. In a large, underused flowerbed in the outermost corner of a semi-public yard (close to a public park) a public building session was organized in May 2012 together with the property manager at the time. The idea was to assist the participants – anyone showing up on site on that day was welcome (and encouraged) to join – in building a public place where they would like to spend time. The analysis of the case in San Francisco showed that place attachment can introduce a new scale and an increased level of detailing and variation to the streetscape. The parklets, where the citizens themselves proposed the locations, generated greater detailing and variation, which indicates that the feeling of place attachment was stronger there than at the locations that were chosen by the municipality (the plazas). The study also showed that frequent use of a place can result in place attachment, particularly if one has the possibility to influence the physical appearance, for example by moveable objects. An individual can enter the placemaking process in any of the phases described by Carmona and still experience emotional bonds and place insideness. Placemaking hence creates places that generate, and places that are generated by, place attachment. The case in Berlin clearly showed that co-creation is much about attitude. All participants in a placemaking process – professionals as well as non-professionals – have to leave space for others to get involved and thereby share influence over the outcome. If one does not understand and feel part of the overarching concept, then it becomes difficult to feel free and confident in shaping individual parts. A combination of active and collaborative involvement is crucial – co-creation is different from do-it-yourself. The studied cases show that placemaking requires a change of attitude and new professional roles for architects and urban planners – for example as curator, initiator, motivator, teacher, and prototype builder. The action research in Malmö made it clear that active user involvement enables citizen groups who are normally not part of urban development and design to engage. For example, age and language skills become less decisive compared to regular participatory planning processes. The involvement created long-term emotional engagement, lasting beyond the removal of the co-created objects. The action research clearly showed the importance of place management in order for placemaking to be successful, i.e. it is decisive that the placemaking can continue through all four of Carmona’s place-shaping phases. Putting place attachment and co-creation on the conscious, professional agenda of architects and urban planners is the main message from this research. Furthermore, clarifying the possible effects of placemaking on individual well-being as well as on the physical qualities of a place is central in this work. In order to work with placemaking, professional actors (including municipalities) have to become clear about in which of Carmona’s phases they are willing to let others contribute, and then find the appropriate working methods for this to happen.
Has partsPaper 1: Investigations of place attachment in public space. The Nordic Journal of Architectural Research, 2018:2, vol. 30, pp. 5-30
Paper 2: Making space for diversity and active user involvement – Placemaking in public space
Paper 3: Teder, Maria Eggertsen Professional Roles and Attitudes in Practice. CoDesign https://doi.org/10.1080/15710882.2018.1472284