A Catalyst for Change: Understanding Characteristics of Citizen-driven Placemaking Endeavors Across Diverse Communities

By Catherine Normoyle and Cotter Christian.

Published by Design Principles and Practices: An International Journal — Annual Review

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Published Online: December 22, 2016 Free Download

DOI: 10.18848/1833-1874/CGP/v10/41-58

Citizen-driven placemaking is a category of placemaking where residents of a community take ownership of an unused, inauthentic, or transient public space and repurpose it for their own benefit or need. This category implements a tactical, do-it-yourself approach that is often an unsanctioned hack of space, including a range of space interventions from temporary to semi-permanent installations, activities, and other ephemeral occupations. These placemaking endeavors provide an opportunity for citizens to be activists in their community, creating meaningful places driven by their needs rather than government agencies or developers. In this paper, we consider the concept of place and identify key characteristics of placemaking to define citizen-driven placemaking. Through analysis of four case studies, we reveal elements such as impetus, intention, execution, and results of citizen-driven placemaking endeavors to understand how these different examples create a unique sense of place. By considering some of the approaches of these endeavors, we recognize challenges associated with the topic such as issues of subjectivity, legality, capital, and continuity. In conclusion, we identify core commonalities that may enable successful endeavors, establishing it as an often positive catalyst for greater change in the development of place for diverse communities.

Keywords: Placemaking, Space Interventions

Design Principles and Practices: An International Journal — Annual Review, Volume 10, 2016, pp.41-58. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published Online: December 22, 2016 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.489MB)).

Catherine Normoyle

Assistant Professor, Graphic Design, Memphis College of Art, Memphis, Tennessee, USA

Cotter Christian

Assistant Professor, Interior Design, Parsons School of Design at The New School, New York, New York, New York, USA