The name is unambiguous. Places Victoria is a placemaker, not just a developer. As the Urban Renewal Authority for Victoria, Places Victoria is taking the lead role in shaping the future of key locations in metropolitan Melbourne and across Victoria.
The value of placemaking was established through the VicUrban Uni initiative in 2009 and further refined through the successful Melbourne Place Making Series held in 2010. Both public forums were pivotal to confirming placemaking as a core business concept for the organization.
The challenge now is to embed the placemaking ethos and translate it into an organisational culture driven by clear principles and processes that are understood and consistently applied. Places Victoria defines placemaking as: ‘the deliberate task of imbuing a location – whether it is at the site, precinct or city scale – with distinctive qualities that people are attracted to physically and connect with psychologically.
Good places are beautiful, work well, facilitate exchange in all its forms and strengthen existing positive attributes. Placemaking is an ongoing activity, undertaken in partnership with other stakeholders, recognizing that both people-oriented design as well as integrated place management must work in combination to achieve success.’
Particularly for urban consolidation and redevelopment projects, places already exist; perhaps not yet in the form we might envisage them. Identifying and assessing the unique attributes and meanings of existing places is therefore important. Drawing on a wide range of data and resources to develop an understanding of what constitutes the ‘essence’ of a place, its strategic context and its potential for transformation are some of the vital first steps whether revitalizing existing places or in creating new places.
A collective and collaborative activity
Creating great places invariably requires more than one profession. Of necessity, it is both a collective and collaborative activity that requires long-term vision. The combined skills, expertise and organizational make-up of an urban renewal agency such as Places Victoria are critical to achieving successful place outcomes. Acknowledgement of that success however can only be made by the people who use those places. Engaging the community in setting the place vision and values from the outset is therefore fundamental.
What distinguishes the typical project development process from one informed by placemaking? The simple answer is that placemaking as practiced by Places Victoria requires that all those involved in the creation of a place are committed to achieving the requisite principles and to ensuring that their business practices work towards achieving those principles. In essence, a strong placemaking ethos provides Places Victoria with the critical framework to assess and make informed decisions throughout the life of a renewal project from inception, to implementation and to evaluation. The diagram on the below illustrates the elements and skills that in combination help achieve successful places.