Think City and UN-Habitat launch a new programme to educate placemakers
Think City today launched Placemaker Week ASEAN, a regional gathering of international and local placemaking experts, activists and city makers to share experiences, projects and innovations around placemaking to promote vibrant public spaces, enabling cities to transform into thriving places. The programme was also initiated to help cities within South East Asia to benefit from a collaborative approach to better placemaking in support of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals 11 (SDGs).
Placemaking is a multifaceted approach to the planning, design and management of public spaces that capitalizes on a local community's assets, inspiration, and potential, with the intention of creating public spaces that promote people's health, happiness, and well-being.
Held for the first time in ASEAN, Placemaker Week ASEAN will take place over two weeks within Kuala Lumpur’s creative and cultural district and the programme will comprise of education workshops, design charrettes, place games and seminars, culminating in a two-day plenary session on November 7-8, 2019. Various programmes will also take place in multiple locations around downtown Kuala Lumpur, Penang, Johor Bahru, Putrajaya and Klang.
Hamdan Abdul Majeed, Managing Director of Think City Sdn Bhd said, “Placemaking is increasingly recognized as the cooperative process to improve public spaces, buildings, streets and cities driven by dynamic communities of stakeholders to ensure sustainable outcomes and livable places for all. It is also seen as a critical component to address some of the challenges of massive urbanization happening throughout South East Asia.
“Our iteration of Placemaker Week ASEAN acts as our follow up to the UN-Habitat sponsored Placemaking Week Wuhan where a Wuhan Declaration was mooted and accepted by participants. Taking place in December last year, participants pledged to promote city-building through placemaking to maximise the shared value of the public realm”, said Hamdan.
Three themes were selected as focus areas for Placemaker Week ASEAN 2019 which were waterfronts, historic streets and healthy communities.
Hamdan added that urban waterfronts are central to the life of the community and when integrated with the existing urban fabric, they can be great public spaces that are accessible and full of activity at all times of the day and year.
Historical streets also face pressure from development or are isolated from the broader transformation of a city but the human-scaled qualities that make them so valuable are also what create their lasting appeal. Thus placemaking is crucial; with the legacy of these vital historic public spaces meriting an interdisciplinary approach that preserves their sense of place.
Public spaces, at their best, create an enabling environment for healthy lifestyles and healthy communities. Whether through public markets that provide fresh and nutritious food or through widely used bike lanes, the way public spaces are designed, how these places are used has profound impacts.
“How do you develop the public realm and programme it to attract optimal usage? We want community partners such as local councils, government bodies, non-governmental organisations, private property developers and even young people to work together to answer these questions which can then lead to building a stronger sense of civic consciousness,” Hamdan said.
The Placemaker Week ASEAN is presented by Think City and UN-Habitat and co-presented by Nextdor Property Communications Sdn Bhd, European placemaking advocate STIPO and the Malaysian Institute of Planners (MIP). Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL), British Council Malaysia, Air Asia Foundation and Citi Foundation are supporters.
In April 2020, the follow-up programme to Placemaker Week ASEAN will be the Placemaker Awards ASEAN, co-presented by Think City and Nextdor Property Communications. The Placemaker Awards ASEAN is the first award of its kind in the region and is a special opportunity to celebrate the best in placemaking and community building throughout the ASEAN. It covers categories such as Best Rejuvenation, Best Green Place and Best Place.