Placemaking Wales Guide

Placemaking is a term that is used widely and has different meanings in different contexts. This guidance document builds on the Placemaking Wales Charter and sets out in more detail what placemaking means so that all involved in shaping the built environment in Wales have a clear understanding. It covers, at a high level, key aspects of placemaking that should be considered and points to further reading sources that provide greater detail on each of the aspects.

Placemaking Guide 2020
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Design Comission publishes Places for Life II

Working from home has placed a greater emphasis on our neighbourhoods as a place to live, work, home-school and spend our free time according to a new report launched by the Design Commission for Wales today.

Places for Life II features a series of articles from renowned architects, designers and built environment professionals. Their focus is on what we do next – how will our towns and villages recover, what will the future of our residential landscape look like and how can we be ever more responsive to the people and place within which any development takes place?

The publication is the second in a series that originate from a conference held in 2016, the purpose of which was to address housing and the quality of the places we create to live. The articles in this new edition of Places for Life were written during the initial height of the COVID-19 pandemic in the spring/ summer of 2020. 

Aled Singleton of Swansea University, urban designer Jess Richmond, architect Priit Jürim and Rhian Thomas and Amanda Spence of Alt-Architecture write about the importance of understanding places and people and how to respond to this. They do not advocate a tokenistic or superficial glance, but a deep-rooted understanding and real care. The dangers of eliminating the past in terms of culture, heritage, community and identity are identified and the role of local people as the experts is emphasised along with the need to use a range of creative ways to engage with them.

Articles by Dr Matthew Jones of Birmingham School of Architecture & Design and Coombs Jones Architects & Makers, Sarah Featherstone architect and director of Featherstone Young and member of VeloCity, Bethan Scorey early-career building historian, Diana Snachez and Tom Wigg of award winning consultancy Hoare Lee, architect at Stride Treglown Rob Wheaton and chartered surveyor Robert Chapman discuss how we might shape places in the future.

They focus on how towns, suburbs and villages offer a range of opportunities which can be capitalised on, including those stemming from our collective re-localisation as a result of lockdown and the ongoing necessity to work from home where possible.

Jen Heal, Design Advisor for the Design Commission for Wales and editor of the publication said: “COVID-19 has placed a renewed focus on the quality of both our homes and amenity spaces but also the sense of community which may or may not be able to offer support for those in need.

“The Places for Life II publication includes articles that offer a rich source of ideas and visions of an alternative future. They challenge current practice to do better for people and place. There is a common emphasis on recognising the unique qualities of a location whether that is through the landscape, existing buildings or the community that does or will inhabit it.

“COVID-19 has definitely resulted in many of us placing a greater emphasis on our neighbourhoods. We cannot and should not underestimate the relationship between the way we plan and design places and health and wellbeing.

“There is much to do to make Wales a better place. Our Places for Life conference and first publication helped to shape the placemaking agenda in Planning Policy Wales 10. The publication of Places for Life II will play an important role as we continue to work closely with Welsh Government and our colleagues in the built environment sector to inspire, influence and challenge current practices and provide a source of alternative ideas. 

Julie James MS, Minister for Housing and Local Government said: “Great places are at the core of the objectives of the planning system in Wales.  I am therefore pleased to support Places for Life II from the Design Commission for Wales which offers further encouragement, broadens dialogue and urges pace through the insightful and expert essays from practitioners featured in this volume.

We know collaboration is key to involving and enabling the essential community involvement, understanding and shaping of place, creative problem solving and thoughtful design that is highlighted in Places for Life II.  We must not accept placeless and lifeless ‘anywhere’ developments and whilst I encourage, I also challenge all those working in the built environment to forge creative and ambitious visions for the places we want and need to see created and shaped in Wales - places we can be proud of.”

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Site and Context Analysis Guide: Capturing the value of a site

Site analysis is a critical part of the planning and design process. No development takes place in isolation - it will be influenced by the conditions of the site and will have an impact on its context. Good site and context analysis forms the foundation of good design. This guide is relevant to those commissioning, undertaking and reviewing development proposals, and is relevant to developments of all types and scales. It advocates a thorough, proportionate analysis of a site and its context as an integral part of the design process. The conclusions of the analysis can be used to inform a design framework which, when combined with key urban design and architectural principles, will establish parameters for development. The result should be an approach that maximises the potential of the site and is presented clearly in a planning application.

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