Social Networks and Placemaking

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A&DS Head of Urbanism Diarmaid Lawlor writes on the concept of ‘Open Source Placemaking’

Places are about exchange. The most successful places enable a variety of exchanges, social, cultural, economic. Traditionally, the public space of the street, the block, the district and the city enabled these exchanges through the physical structure of the place. Making and re-making the city in this context was, and continues to be about physical regeneration.

However, in contemporary society, there are a variety of media to enable the exchanges that characterise successful places. There are a variety of actors who do the exchanging to enable economic ecologies in virtual and physical spaces. The economic downturn has presented places, of all kinds, with a series of challenges. These challenges include the delivery of public services, the management of place assets, delivering policy to achieve outcomes, and the management of public finance. There is much talk of efficiencies, cuts and the need to rethink how the actors that participate in places take individual and collective responsibility to enable a place where all can flourish.

At a local level, the idea of growth and development enabled by local assets facilitates some thinking about how a local economic ecology might emerge. It invites thinking about they way in which assets might be re-imagined, how resources could be shared, how a plan for place could emerge incrementally as the result of many small scale, connected actions. A key requirement of any growth is to link spaces with people. These relationships, and their possible implications for the built environment form the basis of this think piece by David Barrie , commissioned by A&DS. The piece called ‘Open Source Placemaking’ explores some emerging thinking, models and case studies in incremental, social and economic place change enabled by social networks, flexible spaces and creative thinking.

The think piece has emerged from work A&DS are doing on Mixed and Sustainable Communities with the Scottish Centre for Regeneration and the Scottish Sustainable Communities Initiative. This work, which includes the recent film on Speirs Lock, aims to inform a better understanding of the role of place in enabling people’s lives, and enabling sustainable change at local level. In this context, over the coming months, we plan to develop a discussion around these issues, facilitated by the Scottish Centre for Regeneration, particularly in terms of these key questions:

What are the conditions to enable the sustainable success of a creative local economic ecology?

How do you fund and manage the process of organic change which can enable these ecologies to form?

What is the role of the built environment in enabling this type of place to establish, in enabling this type of sustainable community to succeed?

A PDF verision of ‘Open Source Placemaking can be found here .

You can follow A&DS on Twitter @ArcDesSco and Facebook .

You can follow David Barrie on Twitter @DavidBarrie

You can follow the Scottish Centre for Regeneration on Twitter @scotcenregen

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Place and leadership

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