Open Access Journal

ISSN: 2183-7635

Article | Open Access

Strengthening Community Sense of Place through Placemaking

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Abstract:  The concept of community involvement and the effect that the act of “making” has on the community itself is a key consideration in the placemaking discussion (Project for Public Spaces, 2015a; Silberberg, Lorah, Disbrow, & Muessig, 2013). From a historical perspective, community development has been placed in the hands of individuals who are considered experts in the creative process. This approach often results in targeted criticism of the proposed development by the host community and a lack of trust in the motives and priorities of the professionals involved (Nikitin, 2012) and diminishes community involvement in the development of public space, a practice that empowers communities and fosters a sense of place among community members. This article discusses the theoretical foundations of community participation and the value of coproduction in the planning and design process, explores the role of placemaking as a strategy for developing a host community’s sense of place, and proposes a continuum of placemaking strategies based on Arnstein’s ladder of citizen participation to increase the likelihood that a sense of place within the host community will be developed as an outcome of the planning and design process. This continuum is designed to help planning and design professionals better understand how they might include the community in a co-produced process and to highlight the degree to which a placemaking approach to community planning and design promotes a sense of place as an outcome of the process.

Keywords:  community-centred design; community development; community participation; placemaking



© Peter J. Ellery, Jane Ellery. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (, which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.