In the planning and development of the Vitality Village, particularly in paving the way for its working culture, we are focused on ways of understanding and using place. We aim for the Village to be a home and workshop for its tenants and a destination for visitors.

We have already workshopped with placemaker David Engwicht, founder of Creative Communities, who advises that ‘just as a homemaker turns a house into a home … a placemaker turns space into a place.’ Critical to Engwicht’s view, shared space is optimised when its users are engaged in ongoing co-design, at least through their interaction with it. Don’t bolt things to the floor! A people-centered approach will foster creativity and engagement.

At Pause 2020 we found that perspective reinforced by high profile Urban Designer Steven Cornwell, Global Director of Brand Experience at ERA-co.

Monoculture is bad, pluralism and diversity is good. Place-making is about experience, and a community creates a place over time. Humans are understood as leaders and authors of the spaces they wish to inhabit. ‘The greatest changes in the world come from the ground up, not the top down’.

Place has to compete with ‘attention capitalism’ and mobile computing, a ‘heads down’ culture which relates to disconnection and loneliness. It’s a site for engagement. Besides the busy-ness, though, it offers refuges of rest, stillness, and focus. A place balances three tensions: light and darkness, stillness and movement, and sound and silence. When a place can appropriately balance these characteristics we can achieve some incredible outcomes.

Credit: Michael Doneman