Via our networks The City at Eye Level, Re:Kreators, New Europe, the Placemaking Leadership Council and others, for many years we have been working with practitioners all over the world creating better cities and great places.
How people connect to a place is fundamental for human scale, for interaction, for innovation, for a healthy and joyful life, and for a sustainable living environment. Placemaking is fun. Placemaking is fundamental. Placemaking is quicker, lighter, cheaper – placemaking is a shared investment for the long term.
During the Placemaking Week we brought together partners from approximately 20 European and non-European countries to discuss the network’s potential. We also interviewed 29 people (practitioners and academics) that were interviewed to gauge their ideas about creating a European Placemaking Network.
The workshop we had during Placemaking Week strengthened our belief in the value of a European Placemaking Network. Together with Future of Places research centre, partners such as PPS and UN Habitat, and with you, we want to start this network.
We need the network to foster the understanding of what makes a good PLACE and how we can help in their creation, by connecting the diverse group of people and initiatives, from placemakers, practitioners, universities, cities, to developers and other networks that influence urban development.
Report and films
Via these links you can find the reports and films we made during Placemaking week. They show the opportunities to start the network. For more video’s go to the following page.
How do we start?
We can start with a number of content-driven outcome goals that we want to achieve in the coming period (shall we say one year?)
Develop a charter for the network
In order to have a democratic network with dedicated values and principles, it is necessary to develop a charter for the European Placemaking Network. More specifically, the network’s members should agree on the following points for the optimal operation of the network:
- We will work on realizing a better European Placemaking Network.
- We recognize that physical solutions by themselves will not solve social and economic problems, but neither can economic vitality, community stability and environmental health be sustained without a coherent and supportive physical framework. The physical, social and organizational approach go hand in hand and influence each other, as they cannot be separated from one another.
- We represent an interdisciplinary network that includes individuals and groups from academia, practitioners, other related networks, cities, private companies, non-governmental organisations and public authorities. We are dedicated to re-establishing a collaborative way of working on a better city at eye level.
- We are committed to reclaiming our space, our neighbourhood, our cities.
- Optimise the charter in co-creation with our partners.
Make a toolkit – Invite people to create one (‘Let us make one together!’)/people can work on different subjects on the toolkit/we can search for funding in order to build the toolkit.
Via this network we can build a practical toolkit for placemaking that will influence placemaking approaches, but also the planning and designing processes of public spaces across Europe. This toolkit would provide guidelines on how to, in the first place, activate a community and ultimately how to develop a placemaking project.
- Collect items for the placemaking toolkit;
- Search for funding to create the toolkit;
- Create the toolkit, share it via the website, book, article and the Facebook group.
Joint research/ask universities and others
The European Placemaking Network can become a place where universities, and their students, researchers and professors, can engage in joint research, so that the study activities are shared and included in a dynamic and active context that will foster interaction between the different universities.
- Create an open call for interested universities across Europe that would like to cooperate;
- Create a list of interested universities and institutions;
- Define research themes linked to placemaking, such as gentrification and placemaking, tactical urbanism, etc.
Peer-to-peer: How do you want this network to help you?
An important part of the network is peer-to-peer learning, where everyone can learn from each other and discuss the difficulties that they face in their projects. For instance, researchers can engage in dialogue with practitioners and exchange knowledge, while academia can provide the theoretical and practitioners the practical side of placemaking projects.
- Create a forum or a platform, where members can discuss issues they want to raise;
- Post issues in an announcement, so people can join forces with others;
- Find partners together.
EU Urban Agenda
The main concern of the European Urban Agenda is to guarantee a real partnership for the growth of cities, in terms of urban and social challenges. This agenda envisages cooperation between the European Commission, its member states and cities to generate innovative ideas in European cities.
The European Placemaking Network should be aligned with the guidelines of the European Urban Agenda and encourage the exchange of innovative ideas regarding placemaking with the aim of sharing, but above all, putting ideas into practice in different cities. The European Urban Agenda will grant the network access to funding and highlight its ideas and projects. Following are some of the relevant European programmes.
- Horizon 2020, which addresses all kinds of stakeholders, is the biggest EU Research and Innovation programme, and we could use it to already start pushing agendas for European funding.
- URBACT targets cities, municipalities, towns (with no size limit), infra-municipal tiers of government and metropolitan authorities. Other beneficiaries of URBACT are local agencies; provincial, regional and national authorities; universities and research centres. All beneficiaries shall be public bodies or the equivalent.
- INTERREG, which targets regional and local governments across Europe.
- JPI, a joint programming initiative that addresses municipalities, businesses, researchers, civil society and other stakeholders.
- Understand which of the members can connect the EU agenda with the network;
- Collaborate and participate in the European Urban Agenda’s funding programmes to develop projects in the cities and promote learning by doing;
- Understand which project the network can propagate to improve placemaking.
The network serves as a sharing platform for best placemaking practices, where we can share our experiences and knowledge, which would undoubtedly have a major impact on our work. Indeed, these examples would inspire our work and influence the way we think about placemaking, as it would enable us to identify with the great accomplishments that have been achieved in other places.
- Put out an open call for best practices, so that we can identify the best examples of placemaking across Europe and vote which one is the best.
- Set up a prize for best practices.
- Create articles, so the best practices can be shared through the social media and the website, for example.
Share your agenda
In order to promote our work and create common experiences, it would be useful to create an agenda in which we can share our events. More specifically, after creating this agenda, we can then create a dialogue so we can help each other with our projects and ask for aid in matters such as of funding, attracting important actors and developing creative ideas.
- Create a calendar of the events organized by members;
- Find someone that is able to secure funding and help members to create their events;
- Create a system for advertising events.
Steps in the process
Besides focusing on the content, we need to focus on how to disseminate the content and how to involve interested parties.
Internal communication of the group
Create a group on social media such as a LinkedIn or Facebook group so we can exchange information.
- Create this group with all of the involved people, so that we can keep in touch;
- Invite new members to the group and collaborate.
Make a list of (potential) members, open up the network
After identifying the first members of the network, we will make a list of who are we and how we can work together. The priority should be to share our projects, initiatives, knowledge and our passion for placemaking. The next step is to open up to new members.
- Make a list of all the members. Invite them to write down information such as their name, the name of their company and its activity. In addition, perhaps ask them to mention an issue that they want to research.
- Members could identify their best placemaking practice and share their story with the network.
Define the structure of the network
It is important for a network to define its structure. The European Placemaking network is an open network.
- Conduct research on the work, structure and rules of other networks in order to improve our understanding of how networks function;
- Organise a structure in which people can play the role that they want to play.
One of the first things the network will need to do is highlight the European project through a dynamic, interactive and appealing website. This website could have the URL of www.europeanplacemakingnetwork.eu or www.epn.eu. The idea behind the website will be to develop a platform where we can draw attention to our activities. The website will include topics such as a calendar, an agenda, open-source articles, and in general it will be a space for sharing good placemaking practices. This will provide cities, decision-makers and all experts with an online platform where they can engage in dialogue and share ideas for building liveable urban places.
Another option, instead of creating a new website, would be to use an existing website as a host, such as the site of The City at Eye Level, or PPS, or another one. We can create a sub-page and connect it to other sites, so that we can be stronger through already existing networks.
- Decide whether to use an existing website as a host or create a new one; an open website where everybody can collaborate by sharing information (like a social network);
- Try to find someone who can operate and maintain the website.
Let’s join forces and make it work
If you want to be part of the network, please fill in this survey: https://goo.gl/forms/fZcMeVaSCwd9tv2G3
We reach out to you. Please send us your comments and ideas:
We will start the network on in 2018 and will use the coming weeks to prepare it together with you.