Cities in Placemaking

A city-to-city learning programme with and for European cities

March 20, 2023
European-wide

About the project

We launched our new initiative – the Cities in Placemaking programme!

In recent years, the placemaking movement has grown immensely thanks to the inspiring and fearless local leaders who have championed this approach. We now saw that these actions can only lead to sustainable and long-term changes if they are supported by decision-makers and local government. This is why we, Placemaking Europe, are committed to making placemaking systemic. We believe that involving a growing number of civil servants in placemaking is a path to a more sustainable and resilient future, with the interests of communities at its heart.

And this is why in 2023 we launched Cities in Placemaking – a city-to-city learning programme with and for European cities.

Cities in Placemaking is a continuous, 2-year learning partnership for municipal public administrations starting in March 2023. The programme creates awareness and practical knowledge about placemaking and builds a group of innovative, solution-oriented and passionate city representatives who put placemaking at the heart of urban transformation. Together we are setting new standards for creating healthy, inclusive and lovable communities through better public space.

Cities in Placemaking:

  • Who for? The Cities in Placemaking programme is aimed at civil servants from European cities. The partnership for the programme is formed between Placemaking Europe and a Municipality.
  • How long is the programme? This programme lasts 2-years.
  • When did the programme start? The kick-off meeting took place on March 20-22, 2023 in Amsterdam.

Our mission is to create a next generation of placemaking experts in governance and together and through the programme we strive to:

  1. work, share and learn together with the Placemakers from the municipalities,
  2. break down the silos and advocate for placemaking at the Municipalities,
  3. develop a roadmap for placemaking for systemic change.

We completed a group of representatives from 13 European municipalities that are becoming European pioneers in implementing placemaking at a strategic level through their commitment to the programme. If you are interested in the programme, you can find more information in the brochure and reach out to us!

Vinnytsia is a city with a population of about 400,000 people, located in the central part of Ukraine on both banks of the Southern Bug River. It is a regional center, a multinational intercultural city, open to innovative ideas, and known for its cultural and scientific life. It has a Strategy for the Development of Vinnytsia Urban Territorial Community until 2030 of the European model, which indicates the key priorities of the city’s development in the near term. Vision of the Strategy: “Vinnytsia is a magnet city, a modern and comfortable city, a community where you want to live and work; space of great opportunities and prospects”. The city is one of the most attractive regions for investment in Ukraine, thanks to its strong industrial and scientific potential and favorable investment climate. Vinnytsia is one of the leaders in the development of innovations and IT industry in Ukraine. Vinnytsia is known far beyond our country as a city of students. We are proud of outstanding higher education institutions, such as Stus Donetsk National University.

We want to share our experience in work with complicated, conflict public spaces and how we are searching for local solutions to lead for global changes. We are expect it will proactive, collaborative, educative and insightful for us. The key issue for us is how we can work with public spaces to maximize its profit and impact on citywide citizens’ quality of life.

Faced with the growing demands of an urban-rural population, Famalicão intends to distinguish itself in a different way, based on the enhancement of its identity, values, networks and connections, promoting the strengthening of the quality of life in and of its territory, making it “the place where there are challenges, the place where dreams come true, the place where things happen”. We accept the challenge that we want to be a global techno-industrial community, in a multifunctional green territory.

We hope to obtain and to learn the best examples and practices from all the participants and cities’ representatives. We hope this programme can be a kick off for our strategy and to improve our public spaces in order to improve the citizens’ lifestyle and to make Vila Nova de Famalicão a friendly city for all our residents of all ages.

Wroclaw is located in the heart of Europe and very well connected with the rest of the world. The city of Wroclaw is the third largest academic centre in Poland with 28 universities, including over 100.000 students in various field. Wroclaw is an innovation and creativity centre: knowledge and rapid growth drive its creativity. IT, biotechnology, engineering, chemistry and pharmaceutical sectors are represented as well as locally established start-ups. R&D facilities, incubators, co-working spaces, networking, business friendly support and over 200 start-ups makes Wroclaw interesting place to create and launch modern idea and solutions. The rich history and diverse cultural offer will allow everybody to find the sustainable place to live, work and study in Wroclaw. Within over 40 parks, aquaparks, swimming pools, theatres, an rich offer of entertainment the city gives limitless possibilities to spend fantastic time and to keep work-life balance. The city is called the meeting place, loved for being green, smart, multicultural and innovative.

We’d like to learn how to create public spaces having regard to its most important values, respecting the needs of residents and environment. Also, we’d like to learn how overcoming different kind of legal limitations, how to work across departments, and how to communicate with citizens – we need their involvement in projects, also financially, having in mind the limitations of city budget.

Trenčín is located in the West of Slovakia at the river Váh under the medieval castle cca 120 km from the capital of Bratislava. With its 55k inhabitants it is the 8th largest city in the country. In the 19th century it became an important commercial and military centre with textile, food processing and machinery industries. The city experiences the post-industrial shift and it bets on regeneration by culture. Trenčín won the title of European Cultural Capital 2026 and one of the goals of the project is to make its public spaces more liveable and inclusive.

In 2026 we will host the European Capital of Culture and we would like to see locals as well as visitors enjoying healthy and inclusive public spaces, the vibe of the city and the cultural program which also works a lot with architecture, heritage and interventions in public space. Thanks to many investment projects in the city and the European Capital of Culture title we would like to learn not only how to make infrastructure but how to initiate connections, relations, atmosphere and feelings among people and how to let them co-create our common identity of a European city.

Rotterdam is a major port city in the Dutch province of South Holland. The Maritime Museum’s vintage ships and exhibits trace the city’s seafaring history. The 17th-century Delfshaven neighborhood is home to canalside shopping and Pilgrim Fathers Church, where pilgrims worshiped before sailing to America. After being almost completely reconstructed following WWII, the city is now known for bold, modern architecture. But Architecture is more than just the buildings: from architecture, urban design, interior and landscape architecture to the design of public space. Together they shape our living environment and influence how the city is perceived and experienced. Architecture is a matter for all Rotterdammers.

We are especially curious how other cities use placemaking in relation to climate adaptation.

Located in the Emilia-Romagna Region, in Northern Italy. Reggio Emilia is at the top of the rankings as one of the most prosperous and liveable territory in Italy. It’s particularly renowned for the quality of its public services, food sector, industry and civic participation. The Reggio Emilia Approach in educational philosophy has been developed since seventies and today it is internationally recognized thanks to “Reggio Children and the Loris Malaguzzi International Center”. In addition, the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia has more than 8000 students, offering high quality “student-friendly” services, also promoting new courses and degree courses linked to the new Digital District. Reggio was one of the founder members of the Intercultural Cities Network in 2008. It was also the founder, and the coordinator, of the Italian Network of Intercultural Cities “Le città del dialogo”. Finally, Reggio is the city of the First Italian Tricolour flag.

A comparison between cities that want to experiment new public places. Through the Programme we would like to learn which tools to use, which could be the community involvement, qualifications of social subjects towards the responsibility of regeneration and management of public spaces in the dimension of social use (cultural, educational, sport and wellness).

Helsinki is a place of growth. In our city, children can grow into healthy adults, people can all the good things that already surround us can continue to grow even better. All this is supported by long-term sustainable economic growth. Helsinki is a place where people can realise themselves and create and seize opportunities. It’s a peaceful ecosystem that evolved by the open sea, hidden from view. Helsinki is opening up to the world without losing its kind heart, its emotional core of safety and hominess. Everyone is free to be a part of Helsinki just as you are, Helsinki is built on trust. Designated as City of Design by UNESCO, Helsinki is a city of distinctive urban arts and culture, uniting professionals from local, national and international communities with well-established independent actors. Helsinki harnesses design to help better understand city residents’ everyday life and needs. This effort utilises the expertise of people working in the creative industry in many ways. Design is a major factor in the development of the built environment.

Experiences and viewpoints from other cities. Policy implementation relating to placemaking, participation, urban design. How to overcome bureaucratic obstacles and how to integrate placemaking into different planning and design processes. Learning to argue an economic and sustainability case for placemaking.

Helsingborg is one of the oldest cities in the Nordic region and people have been living here since the 10th century. The city is located in Northwest Skåne, where the Öresund strait is at its narrowest and where Denmark and Helsingör are 20 minutes away by ferry. In Helsingborg the sea is very important to our wellbeing, we like to go bathing all year round. In the summer, we head off to one of the beaches found in the heart of the city, and in the winter, we visit one of our three cold water bathhouses. In 2019, a decision was made to accelerate the City of Helsingborg’s innovation work. The initiative was kicked off with H22 – a long term investment to improve quality of life for those living and working in the city. The path to achieving the goals has involved challenges, but also inspiring opportunities. The vision states that Helsingborg in 2035 should be a creative, vibrant, shared, global and balanced city for both people and businesses. As urban planners, we implement that vision through co-creative processes and placemaking together with engaged residents to develop successful public places.

New strategies to effectively incorporate placemaking in a broader sense than just on a project basis. It is also an opportunity to network with other placemaking experts and exchange knowledge in the field. Inequality, loneliness and ill health are challenges we are facing and that have an impact on the use of the urban environment and feeling of safety, where we see that part of the solution can be through placemaking.

The Hague is the largest Dutch city on the North Sea in the Netherlands and forms the centre of the Greater The Hague urban area. It has been described as the country’s de facto capital. The Hague is also the capital of the province of South Holland, and the city hosts both the International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Court. After the separation of Belgium in 1830, Amsterdam remained the capital of the Netherlands, while the government was situated in The Hague. When the government started to play a more prominent role in Dutch society after 1850, The Hague quickly expanded. The city sustained heavy damage during World War II and the bombardment wreaked widespread destruction in the area and many fatalities. After the war, The Hague became at one time the largest building site in Europe. The city expanded massively to the south-west, and the destroyed areas were quickly rebuilt. The population peaked at 600,000 inhabitants around 1965.

We have many questions about placemaking approach and we are curious to know more about it. How placemaking fits into overall city-making? It already fits as a physical; component, but how can we strengthen it also it in social part.

Cork is Ireland’s second city and it is a proud river city with an industrial history and a rich trading heritage. Cork City is notable for its hilly landscape, deep harbour and a temperate
climate. Among the municipal body of Cork and the City Council there is a strong practise of inter-agency, multi-stakeholder cooperation, particularly on social inclusion, community development and policy development work. Cork is a UNESCO Learning City, a WHO Healthy City and is engaged with UNICEF Child Friendly Cities programme. All of these have driven the increased interest in using Placemaking as an innovative tool to drive cross sectoral work as our city grows. National planning policy also envisages the following enablers of growth for Cork City by 2040- large scale regeneration projects for provision of new employment, housing and supporting infrastructure in Cork Docklands, identifying opportunities to intensify housing development in inner city and suburban areas, supported
by public realm and amenities, and in ‘greenfield’ areas with good transport links.

This programme offers an opportunity for our Council to begin a journey of engaging all departments in the practice of placemaking. This involves increasing the understanding and ownership of Placemaking methods and aspirations for the city. We hope that the Cities in Placemaking programme can help to position us at the forefront of this work, as well as support us to execute a comprehensive and successful pilot in the city.

Józsefváros is the 8th District of Budapest, a centrally located, high-density area. With its 77.000 residents spread only in 11 skm, it is a medium sized district within the capital. It has been the most disadvantaged area of the city both socially and spatially for the past decades, yet, it is also the fastest changing one in the past 15-20 years. The municipality’s current vision adresses the themes of respect, trust, solidarity, equity, openness, sustainability, freedom, justice and equal rights. The main quests the city embarks on are affordable and social housing, sustainable and healthy public spaces and participation.

We expect to learn the stories behind both best practices and setbacks of the participants and the Placemaking Europe knowledge base. As for the learnings, we hope to learn about the theoretical foundation of placemaking, as well as to look behind the processes, project management from ideation to implementation, project communication and dissemination, evaluation methods, political frameworks, stakeholder activation, capacity building of stakeholders and place management.

Bradford is one of the biggest and fastest growing cities in the UK. Over half a million people live here and, with more than a fifth of the population under the age of 15, it is one of the youngest cities in the country. It is a very diverse place, home to people of many different backgrounds and cultures and there is a wide variety of different landscapes and settlements. Bradford has a strong physical identity, due in part to its natural landscapes and dramatic topography (it is built across a series of valleys) and also to its wealth of built heritage, largely a legacy of its time as the wool capital of the world during the industrial era. Since the decline of the woollen industry in the latter 20th Century, the local economy has had the potential to grow rapidly thanks to a strong culture of entrepreneurship and new business start-ups in the local population.

We’d like the programme to help improve our capacity to create healthy and inclusive places, to reimagine and reinvent public spaces, and explore new ways of working innovatively and collaboratively together. In particular, for the UK City of Culture 2025, and our UNICEF Child Friendly District bid and as an ICC member we think there is an opportunity to focus on unlocking the potential of our young and diverse communities through placemaking to support inclusion, equality and prosperity.

Bergen is Norway’s second largest city, located on the west coast in the heart of the fjords. As a UNESCO World Heritage City and a European City of Culture, the Bergen region has the ideal combination of nature, culture and exciting urban life.
The City Council’s vision is for Bergen to be active, attractive, climate-smart, green, pedestrian-friendly and compact. The city has nearly 300 000 inhabitants and functions as one of the regional centres on the west coast of Norway. Leading business and industry clusters are finance, energy (renewables, oil and gas, ), maritime industries, tourism, creative (media, design film and music) and the marine sector.

We have many ambitions, goals, and wishes for the new district to transform it into a vibrant place. There is a strong commitment from several players, both residents, public and private actors, who see the potential and who want to contribute to creating an exciting area. We hope that through the Cities in Placemaking programme of Placemaking Europe we will learn more about how to motivate and inspire residents and professionals to help create exciting events, places and identity while transforming the area. By participating in this program, we hope that the City of Bergen will gain more knowledge about placemaking as a strategic tool in city- and project development through the program.

Contact & inquiries

Reach to Ramon Marrades or Marta Popiolek if you’re interested in collaborating

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