Placemaking: A Glossary of Key Terms


This term defines the process where an urban neighbourhood or area is improved and rehabilitated through the demolition of existing structures, often industrial lands and infrastructure, and replacement with new and up to date public and private infrastructure. Urban renewal has had a highly controversial past with examples of wholesale demolition of inner city communities, historic buildings and vibrant neighbourhoods. However, successful examples of revitalisation have been linked with earlier renewal programs.



Community Capacity Building

What’s community capacity building? We like to explain it simply using this Chinese proverb:

“Give a man a fish and he’ll eat for a day. Teach a man how to fish and he’ll eat for his entire life.”

Community capacity building means working with communities to identify and build on their assets, abilities and interests. Empowering communities with skills, information and education, builds their capacity and supports them to create self-led, resilient and sustainable community outcomes and respond independently to their own challenges and opportunities.



Place Activation

Place activation is defined as planning for diverse human activity in a place. When planning new places, the focus of place activation is on ensuring the needs of all potential users are met. This will provide for the natural, organic and sustainable use of places by people as part of their daily life. In turn having a place full of people will attract more people.



Genius Loci: ‘Sprit of Place’

Originally referring to the presiding protective deity or spirit of the place, in contemporary usage, ‘genius loci’, refers to a location’s distinctive placeness, that is its past, current and future essence. In placemaking, the intention of creating place is embedded in evoking a deeper and more intuitive relationship between people and the places they inhabit.



Cultural Tourism

Cultural tourism invites visitors to appreciate the richness of a place through its history and archaeology, the lifestyles of its people, its economic and political structures and the built and natural landscape. In essence, it allows visitors the opportunity to learn, participate, and experience in the genius loci of a place – its unique and authentic place character.



City Image

City image can be defined as the sum of beliefs, ideals and impressions people have toward a certain place. A placemaking approach can help define the existing identity of a city through social, cultural and place based research as well as looking at the community’s aspirations for the city’s evolution.



Destination Planning

Destination planning aims to limit the negative impacts of cultural tourism upon the history and lifestyles of the local community. An understanding of sustainable tourist development allows for the development of culture without loss of its authentic identity.




Describes the process of physical renewal and the return of life to a place. It usually refers to the redevelopment of existing communities and places and has evolved into a policy based on renovation and investment in the existing, rather than the removal.