What is Placemaking Anyways?

Needing ideas for placemaking? Want to know what it is? Read on to find out!
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Lexi Redman
June 16, 2022

Placemaking is one of those buzzwords that has taken the event world by storm, but what exactly is it?

According to, placemaking is “the process of using collaboration between expert designers and local people to shape, manage, and activate local spaces.”

So what does THAT mean?

In essence, placemaking is a means to activate and liven up a public space through art and culture. There are several purposes of placemaking. Here's a quick overview of what we think are some of the important aspects to placemaking:

  1. Cultural

Placemaking is the perfect way to bring cultural experiences to an otherwise unused or undervalued area. Think of a public piano, open for anyone to play; or an indigenous mural highlighting the traditional significance of the land. The important aspect here is consulting and collaborating with the appropriate people & groups, and tailoring your campaign to fit the needs of the local landscape & culture.

Photo by Kim Bellavance Photography

  1. Economic

As demonstrated with our “Shop Local Often” campaign with the Vancouver BIA Partnership, placemaking can be used to increase local revenue. We designed and fabricated large-scale shopping bags to draw awareness to an online campaign which highlighted the importance of supporting local businesses. Placing these temporary art structures in high traffic areas drew attention to the colourful pieces, allowing us to convey the intended messaging, and drive sales locally.

A shopping bag on Cambie and 12th for the "Shop Local Often" placemaking campaign.

  1. Social

Another important element of placemaking is engaging with the surrounding community. Many of our campaigns utilize social media to connect with the public. Creating a “scavenger hunt”, as we did with the Love Your City Campaign, encourages local exploration, and friendly competition.

Another example of placemaking for social purposes is the #KitsCommon plaza. During the summer of 2021, when dine-in options were limited, we helped build an outdoor gathering place in collaboration with the Shop West 4th BIA (it's still up if you want to check it out!). Having safe outdoor spaces encourages Vancouverites to enjoy, gather, and dine in an environment that promotes wellness - and is an excellent way of bringing the community together!

Photo courtesy of the Shop West 4th, featuring the mural designers, The WKNDRS

There are many purposes for placemaking, from bringing vibrancy to an area, to creating social commentary, to bringing awareness to an important cause. At the end of the day, adding beauty to a public space is never a bad idea!

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