Place Standard: Carnegie – three communities test the Place Standard Tool

A person writing on a yellow sticky note during a workshop.
Published: 16/11/2016

Architecture and Design Scotland invited the Carnegie UK Trust to test the Place Standard tool with communities who were winners of the Carnegie Prize for Design and Wellbeing.

What did we do?

Each of the three prizewinning communities had successfully delivered a public space improvement project.

Carnegie were interested in the potential of the tool to “provide a simple framework to structure conversations about place, its physical elements (for example, buildings, spaces, and transport links) combined with its social aspects (for example, whether people feel they have a say in decision making).”

Participants from the three communities road tested the Place Standard tool to evaluate their project. This included variously local people, volunteers and committee members who had created the gardens as well as officers and managers involved in delivery and maintenance.

Assessments were carried out in pairs or groups whilst walking around the local area or sitting together on site. Materials, an introduction and Q&A support were provided by a professional facilitator, however participants conducted the assessment themselves.

Projects assessed were:

  • Pathead Primary School, Kirkcaldy
  • Belville Community Garden Greenock, Inverclyde
  • Auchencairn Link Park, Dumfries and Galloway

“The overall message is the value of the tool as an enabler. The language is good and clear – it promotes a positive conversation.”


Douglas White, Carnegie UK Trust 

Outcomes included

  • The community group participants saw value of the tool for their influence in future developments.
  • The participants also saw value in using the tool to provide evidence for grant applications.
  • This work with the Carnegie Trust played an important role in piloting the Place Standard and participants went on to contribute to the launch of the tool in December 2015.
  • The process provided proof of the tool, including;
    – Ability for community participants to use the tool themselves;
    – Effectiveness for group working and a collaborative approach;
    – Fostering constructive dialogue about place and placemaking;
    – Inclusive involvement of those aged from 8 – 65+.
  • Feedback led to improvements to the tool – prompting inclusion of more space for note-taking; work to improve accessibility to younger children; importance of defining the place to be assessed and links to neighbouring places.

“Link Park committee members were particularly enthusiastic about the tool’s ability to generate interesting discussion about the place and surrounding area. They felt that using the tool would prove useful to identifying gaps for future development, which would assist them in providing evidence and making future grant applications on behalf of the community garden.”

Blake Stevenson

Header image credit: Brands&People on Unsplash

Working together to improve the quality of places across Scotland

The Place Standard is an easy to use tool to evaluate a place, from planning community services to designing and improving neighbourhoods. You can read real-life examples of the Place Standard tool in action from case studies available on our website.

See case studies