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What Makes a Great Place?

Like people, neighbourhoods have their own “personalities” too: some are artsy, others are quaint, and yet others are lively and full of energy. What these places have in common, though, is that they connect with their communities on the physical, social and also digital levels. But how?

It’s all about placemaking, a development philosophy that focuses on building sustainable communities, and around the world, there are some incredible initiatives doing just that. Here, we look at some of the innovative ways vibrant, meaningful places are being created for people. 
All About Art
Downtown Fitchburg, Massachusetts 

Who doesn’t like a little colour in their life? Downtown Fitchburg, once an industrial centre, has been getting a colourful makeover by its art-loving community. It’s a creative neighbourhood in the making – blank walls and pavements in the district are being dressed in vibrant murals that reflect the local history and culture; while historic buildings are turning into mixed-use spaces for artists and entrepreneurs. Here, arts and cultural activities take place at unexpected locations to bring art into the everyday. Imagine a parking lot turning into a pop-up plaza with art installations, games and food. It’s a whole lot of fun, and more importantly, it gives people somewhere to hang out and connect with each other, all the while bringing life to this otherwise empty space and new experiences to the community.
Digital Adventures
Inner City, Auckland

While some may say that smartphones are making us less social, Auckland proves that digital technology, when used right, can also bring people outside and inspire them to rediscover the city in their own way. Enter Pā Rongorongo, an innovative digital portal opened in 2018 in downtown Auckland. It combines an information hub with an interactive digital wall programmed by local artists, and an app designed for both residents and visitors keen to explore the inner city. Whether you prefer to walk or cycle, and whatever your interests, the app will craft a personalised journey for you to experience the area’s arts, culture and heritage. By highlighting local artists and cultural sites, these digital experiences put the spotlight back on the community itself, while creating a deeper connection between people and the city.
Working Well
22 Bishopsgate, London

You can’t work efficiently if you aren’t feeling well, and that’s why wellness is a key element at 22 Bishopsgate, a commercial skyscraper due to open this year in London’s financial district. Not your average office tower, it’s designed with the community’s physical and emotional wellbeing in mind. Craving for a healthy bite? Head to the food hall where fresh, nourishing food is served. Feeling stressed and want to sweat it out? There’s a fully equipped gym. And if you need a moment of calm, a quiet haven, called The Retreat, offers a space for mindful practices. These amenities help create a healthy and happy workforce, which is in turn more productive and motivated. An office building that supports both your work performance and quality of life? Yes, please!
Urban Oasis
Flussbad, Berlin

Imagine: it’s a hot summer day, and you’re strolling along a river with crystal clear water – wouldn’t you fancy a dip? In Berlin, the Spree Canal that surrounds the iconic Museum Island is being transformed into a Flussbad (or “river pool”) that gives pedestrians direct access to the water. This was an unimaginable idea, as it used to be the most polluted part of the waterway system of the city. But by restoring the river’s upper section into a more natural state and incorporating a 300m long plant filter, they’re cleaning up the river in an ecological way, and the purified water will flow into the pool further downstream. Set to complete by 2025, it’ll not only benefit the environment, but also bring the local community back to this otherwise touristy part of the city.
Creative Transformation
Island East, Hong Kong

People give life to a place – this is why placemaking is never just about creating a built environment, but also building a community. Often this is done through experiences that bring people together to the place: pop-up markets, cool events, art exhibitions, and so on. Well, if you work in the Island East area (where Taikoo Place is!), then these are exactly what you get. Island East has transformed from an industrial district into a vibrant, multifaceted neighbourhood that shapes and is shaped by a thriving residential and office community. Last year’s Discover Taikoo Place programme, which featured over 60 wellness, gastronomic, cultural and business events, was a key example of how Taikoo Place continues to drive this connection through collaborations with stakeholders and partners. And from ArtisTree’s arts and cultural programmes, to the annual Tong Chong Street Market, to PROJECT AFTER 6, a programme for office workers to share their musical talents with the community, Taikoo Place’s events continue to evolve to engage the community, ultimately bringing people to the neighbourhood where they can create meaningful memories together. 

Curious about Island East’s creative transformation? Find out more here.


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