Guidance Note: The Practice of Participatory Placemaking


Placemaking is not complicated and does not require specialist skills. There are however principles that are very important which, if followed, will enable a successful and rewarding community capacity building process. These include:

1. Community and citizen participation are essential from the start to the end of the process.

2. Design should support the community-led place analysis and ideas generation and should play a key role in the visualisation of the vision for the public space targeted.

3. Place analysis should be evidence-based, and the place diagram will lead placemakers to identify indicators and data sources.

4. Observations of the use of the target public space over several days and at different times is critical to get a sense of the actual use and blockages.

5. Always create momentum with lighter, quicker, cheaper actions (beta) that allow for experimentation.

6. Evaluate beta actions to learn what works and what should be stopped usually no later than 6 months after implementation. To learn what is not working is as valuable as to discover what works well.

7. Funding is not the issue. Demonstrating actions (beta) that are workable and that has a positive social impact will in most cases provide the content for a successful funding proposal.

8. Continue to learn and steal ideas from other cities and other placemakers.

9. The placemaking project never stops…

This guidance note was written by Wessel Badenhorst in July 2019.


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