Too often potentially interesting place-based projects, whether urban regeneration or heritage-based projects, have been reduced to the immediately tangible denominators of “works”, or “obra” as it is called in Portugal.
A successful Placemaking project relies on the participation of all the interested parts and not just its promoter. All of a project’s stakeholders should engage, whether they are ticket buyers or local residents, because without their buy-in the project won’t be sustainable. And the more participative their involvement, the stronger the chances for the project’s longer-term future.
This fixation with “obra” has perverted wonderful opportunities in the past, either because the master-planning of the project didn’t adequately contemplate the need for the “softer” issues, or the business-plan was poorly conceived and the money ran out, or somebody’s vanity got in the way or, as is too often the case, the overbearing pressures of a short-term agenda and gains have deviated the promotors from their original ideals.
The “Software” is precisely what differentiates the craft of “Placemaking” because it takes an holistic view which is only achievable by considering all the multitude of disciplines and simultaneously embracing the human element, hopefully stimulating the market’s (the humans – resident, visitors etc.) interest and active participation. Without it, the “Hardware” won’t function properly.
The international advances in Placemaking enable us to continually upgrade our software in an operating system adapted to a local hardware. Our operating system is to partner the stakeholders in finding the best solutions for their projects.
We may know more about Placemaking, but our clients usually know more about their Place.
Together, the software and the hardware function and our craft provides “windows” for improving the quality and sustainability of projects.