People like to visit places that are occupied by other people

People are social animals – we like to visit places that are safe, convenient and occupied by other people. Place making is the process of designing and building the environment to make places better for people.

We need to rethink our urban areas.  They need to be redesigned around a new set of values. Instead of accomodating pedestrians and cyclists within an automobile dominated environment, we should accomodate automobiles within an environment dominated by people. It is people that create value and build wealth. It is in prioritising their needs – whether on foot, on a bike or in a wheelchair – that we will begin to change the financial health of our cities and truly make them strong towns.

Strong Towns
Image credit: Shiftspace Design

Place making is a collaborative process by which we can shape our public realm in order to maximise shared value. Place making strengthens the connection between people and the places they share. As both an overarching idea and a hands-on approach for improving a neighbourhood, city, or region, place making inspires people to collectively reimagine and reinvent public spaces as the heart of every community.

Project for Public Spaces

A good introduction to place making in cities is the seminal 1980 book and film ‘The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces‘. Click on the image to watch the film.

A street is the river of life of the city, we come to these places not to escape from it, but to partake of it.

William H. Whyte, in The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces
Image credit: Direct Cinema Ltd

Yarra policy

In 2006 Yarra adopted an Open Space Strategy, and began delivering pocket parks by reallocating street space:

Since then, Yarra has adopted a Place Making Framework, which focuses on main streets; and a Local Liveable Streets document, which covers the remaining streets. These are good policies, but lack funding.

Image credit: City of Yarra.

Free online course

You can learn more about place making from this free online course (the same group also offer longer, paid courses, targeted at councillors, officers, or the state government):

Image credit:

How you can help

You can help by appearing on the Streets Alive Yarra website as a champion for your local street, neighbourhood, or school.

Let’s build a beautiful, liveable and accessible city