This article is the second in a series focusing on the Architecture of the Metaverse. ArchDaily has collaborated with John Marx, AIA, the founding design principal and Chief Artistic Officer of Form4 Architecture, to bring you monthly articles that seek to define the Metaverse, convey the potential of this new realm as well as understand its constraints.
For architects, one of the most captivating aspects of AI and the Metaverse is that of placemaking. How do we create compelling places that bring people to this new world and enable them to enjoy their experience there, getting them to return once the novelty has worn off? How much of this digital world needs to connect back with our day-to-day physical environs for it to feel meaningful and how do these artificial cities, towns, and neighborhoods come to life?
The International Placemaking Week, presented by Project for Public Spaces (PPS) is an inspiring and engaging event designed as a global gathering of placemakers from different sectors to discuss thoughts and share strategies in order to push forward the concept of placemaking in the host city and on an international level. Previous editions took place in Vancouver in 2016, Amsterdam in 2017, and Chattanooga, Tennessee in 2019.
PPS, the nonprofit organization behind Placemaking Week, helps people create and sustain public spaces that build strong communities. In 1999, they elaborated “How to turn a place around”, a book that defined the placemaking movement, creating a guideline of 11 principles to follow in order to create vibrant community spaces.
There are countless good bones in American downtowns across the country, but they’re seldom connected to enough good tissue to be filled with life. This post is on the 10 things needed to make downtowns thrive. And none are the usual suspects. I’ve omitted stuff everyone else talks about because many of you already know those things.
The intense social and environmental fervor that arose in the 1960s and 1970s in response to assaults on the planet’s life support systems, degradation of communities, and socio-economic inequality unleashed revolutionary change at all levels of society. Out of the turmoil of that era, community-based ecological design emerged as a powerful creative force for reshaping the commons, bringing people together, and forming ecologically sustainable relationships with the environment.
Everyone’s experience of a city is unique. Whether one is visiting a place for the first time or has lived there all their life, their experiences are shaped by their personal interactions with the built environment. Buildings, landscapes, and streets come together to offer an opportunity for sensory stimulation, however, most of them are unable to provide inspiration. While a city’s infrastructure accounts for livability, equal importance isn’t given to enjoyability. Play and games embedded in the city’s fabric can help improve user engagement with urban spaces.
The 1970’s were a dark time for New York City. While the economy was down, crime rates were at an all-time high. The negative public image also kept tourists away, driving the city into a financial crisis. To change perceptions about The Big Apple, the New York State Department for Economic Development approached advertising firm Wells Rich Greene to create an inviting marketing operation. After 45 years, the resulting I Love NY campaign remains fresh in the minds of locals and tourists, successfully revamping New York City’s brand. Cities across the world like Paris, Amsterdam and Jerusalem have similarly invested heavily in constructing magnetic brands for themselves.
“Art aims to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance”, Greek polymath Aristotle remarked. Public art in cities worldwide seeks to pursue this aim by offering a sense of meaning and identification to its residents. Taking the form of murals, installations, sculptures, and statues, public art engages with audiences outside of museums and in the public realm. This art presents a democratic manner of collectively redefining concepts like community, identity, and social engagement.
Of the four types of recovery facing American cities and towns—disaster, sprawl, disinvestment, and the recovery of community for those fleeing climate change—the recovery of places from serious disinvestment arguably gets the least amount of press today. But with reasonable effort, it’s the recovery type most likely to bear fruit. This is true for several reasons, beginning with the likelihood that many of the bones of sustainable placemaking are still in place. Newly built places, even if skillfully designed, often face the criticism of “lack of authenticity,” whereas places recovering from disinvestment abound with authentic scars from decades of distress. And places with humble origins were usually built in smaller increments than once-wealthy places, so the tighter rhythms of such places are inherently more interesting than those of grander scale early in recovery.
There are few more powerful questions than “Where are you from?” People feel intensely connected to cities as places and to other people who feel that same kind of connection. In other words, we tend to understand and experience places in a very personal way.
Yet to understand place—indeed, to understand human settlements in general—it’s important to recognize that places are not created by accident. They are created on purpose to further a political or economic agenda. Better cities emerge when the people who shape them think more broadly and consciously about the places they are creating.
Humane cities center around the relationships between people and places. Communities thrive on shared resources, public spaces, and a collective vision for their locality. To nurture happy and healthy cities, designers and the public apply methods of placemaking to the urban setting. Placemaking—the creation of meaningful places—strongly relies on community-based participation to effectively produce magnetic public spaces.
A new traveling exhibition by Danish architecture studio Dorte Mandrup opens at Aedes Architecture Forum in Berlin on 8 July 2022. The exhibition entitled PLACE delves into the strong interrelation between place and architecture and explores the role of the context ties in the quest for sustainable solutions for the future. In September, the exhibition will move to Le Bicolore – Maison du Danemark in Paris.
Public spaces play a significant role in organizing the life of every community but defining what differentiates them from other spaces within the city is not an easy task. Once these spaces start to settle into the collective memory of the local communities, they become key elements that concentrate the mental image of a city. While this process usually happens with urban spaces, monuments and isolated architectural elements can also become markers for the urban life of an area. So, what happens when dramatic events like fires, war, or even the pandemic alter that image?
Lucía Nogales is the general coordinator of Ocupa tu Calle (Occupy your Street) —an UN-Habitat, Avina Foundation-supported initiative promoted by Lima Como Vamos— which focuses on 'citizen urbanism' for inclusive and resilient cities in Latin America.
UNStudio has recently published a report exploring the broader scope of community building and placemaking in the post-pandemic urban environment. Through examples from their practice, UNStudio highlights various design strategies currently incorporated in architecture and urban planning that cater to the universal and crucial need to connect socially. In addition, the practice stresses the importance of “ third spaces” and human-scale connectivity, as well as the blending of digital and physical spaces of interaction.
The terms space and place are often used interchangeably, but they can mean different things depending on the context in which they are used. Placemaking shows that the creation of places transcends the material dimension and involves aspects such as sociability, uses, activities, access, connections, comfort, and image, to create bonds between people and a sense of place.
Ever since the tramline’s closure, the 800-meter-long strip in the center of Corso Gabetti and Ponte Regina Margherita in Turin, has been abandoned. To make use of the dead area and give residents an extra space outdoors following Italy's severe pandemic repercussions, non-profit cultural association Torino Stratosferica has transformed the tree-lined strip into Precollinear Park, a temporary public space fit for socially-distanced leisure.
"Les Jumeaux" or The Twins is a new large-scale public urban intervention by French artist and designer Camille Walala in White City, West London. The project encompasses two pedestrian crossings and seven striking murals, created with geometric patterns and primary colors, Walala’s signature style. Moreover, Camille Walala also unveiled this month her East London intervention, a giant work of art aiming to breathe new life into the street and boost the local economy, entitled "Walala Parade".