Think City, a Malaysian-based social purpose organisation focused on urban rejuvenation, is jointly hosting the first ever regional placemaking conference with UN-Habitat and other partners. Targeted at ASEAN city makers and managers, the inaugural conference aims to promote knowledge surrounding placemaking best practices and encourage discourse on innovative solutions for the future of communities and public spaces.
Placemaker Week ASEAN will take place within Kuala Lumpur’s creative and cultural district from 4 to 8 November 2019, consisting of educational workshops, design charrettes, ‘place games’ where participants pitch placemaking solutions to a panel based on actual locations, and seminars, culminating in a two-day plenary session on November 7 and 8, 2019. Various programmes will also take place in multiple locations around downtown Kuala Lumpur, Penang and Johor Bahru.
Placemaking is the process of managing and designing or adapting public spaces to benefit the community’s well-being and happiness. It can also promote cultural identity, community bonding, population diversity, inclusiveness, health, tourism and increased commercial activities. Whether it is through public markets that provide fresh and nutritious food, street festivals or bike lanes to address traffic congestion, the way public spaces are designed and how these places are used have a profound impact on urban citizens and businesses.
The advent of Placemaker Week ASEAN was prompted by the rapid change that Southeast Asian countries are experiencing through mass urban migration and development, placing pressure on city builders and managers to ensure public spaces are inclusive, accessible and sustainable. It was also initiated to help Southeast Asian cities benefit from a collaborative approach to better placemaking in support of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goal 11 which looks at sustainable cities and communities.
Hamdan Abdul Majeed, Managing Director of Think City Sdn Bhd said, “It is estimated that almost half of the region’s total population live in urban areas. As much as our cities are pursuing economic growth, reflected in the increasing number of skyscrapers that are changing our city skyline, we should not neglect what is happening within our public spaces.
“We need to ask ourselves how we can create a sense of place and belonging. How and where can we forge social connections beyond our own homes? Can we still develop meaningful experiences with others as well as with our surroundings? How do we create places that people will love?”.
Hamdan added that placemaking is being increasingly recognised as an effective means of improving public spaces, buildings, streets and cities. Ideally driven by communities and city stakeholders to ensure sustainable outcomes and liveable places for all, it is also a critical component to address some of the challenges of massive urbanisation happening throughout Southeast Asia.
“This is why we are jointly presenting Placemaker Week ASEAN, where international experts and interested participants from all over the world will come together for important conversations surrounding placemaking.
“We want community partners such as local councils, government bodies, non-government organisations, private property developers and even young people to work together to answer pertinent questions, which can then lead to building a stronger sense of civic consciousness”, added Hamdan.
Three themes were selected as focus areas for Placemaker Week ASEAN, namely waterfronts, historical streets and healthy communities.
Two key programmes taking place during Placemaker Week ASEAN are Place Games, where multidisciplinary teams consisting of urban designers, architects and planners look at solving urban challenges, and a Plenary Session, which will feature urban rejuvenation case studies centred on placemaking and talks by international and regional placemakers.
Placemaker Week ASEAN is presented by Think City and UN-Habitat and co-presented by local placemaking advocate Nextdor Property Communications, European placemaking advocate STIPO and the Malaysian Institute of Planners (MIP), supported by Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL), the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture (MOTAC), British Council Malaysia, Placemaking X, Project for Public Spaces, PNB Merdeka Ventures, Lendlease and the Citi Foundation, with ISOCARP on board as official network partner and the ASEAN Post as the regional digital media partner.
Following Placemaker Week ASEAN will be the Placemaker Awards ASEAN, co-presented by Think City and Nextdor Property Communications, which will take place in April 2020. The Placemaker Awards ASEAN is the first of its kind in the region and is a special opportunity to celebrate the best in placemaking and community building throughout the ASEAN with categories such as Best Rejuvenation, Best Green Place and Best Place.
For more information about Placemaker Week ASEAN and to acquire tickets, visit www.placemakerweek.com.