A participatory approach to public space design as informative for place-making

A participatory approach to public space design as informative for place-making
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1.23 MB
Wessel Strydom, Karen Puren
wessel[dot]strydom[at]nwu[dot]ac[dot]za, karen[dot]puren[at]nwu[dot]ac[dot]za
11 March 2014
27 x

Abstract: Place-making is an empowering process that takes community involvement as point of departure. In South Africa, the planning and design of urban space was previously based on top-down, bureaucratic planning practices that excluded communities from decisionmaking about their neighbourhoods. Together with this, Apartheid policy enforced separate development based on racial grounds, which resulted in communities being relocated to characterless landscapes with limited open spaces. Open spaces are important in low-income high density residential environments as they are prominent public places that form the heart of communities’ social lives. This article reports on the first phase of an on-going research project initiated by Urban and Regional planning at the North-West University, South Africa, that seeks to empower communities to transform local open spaces to vibrant public places. This particular study’s aim was to explore how community involvement can inform the process of place-making. The research was conducted in Ikageng, Potchefstroom, South Africa where the community identified a lack of quality open spaces as a major concern. A qualitative participatory research approach was followed, which included on-site focus group discussions with participants living around an existing open space. Community participation informed place-making in at least two ways: by creating an understanding of the sociospatial dimensions that underlie space and by formulating suggested intervention strategies to address the needs and desires of the community. Suggested interventions include (i) physical interventions (upgrade and beautification of the space), (ii) social  interventions (ongoing community involvement) and (iii) economic interventions (creating employment opportunities).

Keywords: open spaces, place-making, public places, participatory approach

Area: Civil Engineering, Urban Planning and Architecture


  author = {Wessel Strydom and Karen Puren},
  title = {A participatory approach to public space design as informative for place-making},
  journal = {Challenges of Modern Technology},
  year = {2013},
  volume = {4},
  number = {4},
  pages = {33--40},
  url = {http://www.journal.young-scientists.eu/index.php/isuues/file/167-a-participatory-approach-to-public-space-design-as-informative-for-place-making}

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