Why would someone choose the longer route through a park instead of the shortcut over two busy roads? What is it about certain spaces that trigger such impulses?

Public placemaking asks these questions and aims to increase positive associations with place, in a fascinating practice that has taken the world by storm. It can incorporate elements of design, architecture, artworks and events planning.

Placemaking is an increasingly popular term for the holistic practice of designing and capitalising on the character of public spaces to promote interaction, wellbeing and social identity. It relies on local identity and what is already there – the space must be considered as a whole, instead of focusing on just one part.

An example of successful placemaking is a project that was undertaken by Project for Public Space to reduce crime rates at New York’s Bryant Park. Once known as a hangout for drug dealers, the park became more sociable after placemaking efforts such as the removal of hedges that constricted viewpoints and the addition of food kiosks.

Hailed by some as a creative way to reinvent communities and condemned by others as a method of gentrification, placemaking can, however, be a divisive topic.

Read the full article on the practice of placemaking here.