Group photo of Placemaker Week ASEAN 2019 organising committee, partners and speakers.

Think City has launched the Placemaker Week ASEAN (PWA), a regional gathering of international and local placemaking experts, activists and city makers to share experiences, projects and innovations around placemaking to promote vibrant public spaces, enabling cities to transform into thriving places.

The programme was also initiated to help cities within Southeast Asia to benefit from a collaborative approach to better placemaking in support of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals 11 (UNSDGs).

Placemaking is a multifaceted approach to the planning, design and management of public spaces that capitalise on local community assets, inspiration and potential, with the intention of creating public spaces that promote people’s health, happiness, and well-being.

Making its presence for the first time in ASEAN, PWA will take place over two weeks within Kuala Lumpur’s creative and cultural district. The programme will comprise of education workshop, during charettes, place games and seminars, culminating in a two-day plenary session on the 7th and 8th of November 2019.

Various programmes will also take place in multiple locations in Kuala Lumpur, Penang, Johor Bahru, Putrajaya and Klang.

Think City Sdn Bhd managing director Hamdan Abdul Majeed said, “Placemaking is increasingly recognised as the cooperative process to improve public spaces, buildings, streets and cities driven by dynamic communities of stakeholders to ensure sustainable outcomes and livable places for all. It also is seen as a critical component to address some of the challenges of massive urbanisation happening throughout Southeast Asia.

Think City Sdn Bhd represented by managing director Hamdan Abdul Majeed (right), exchanging a collaboration agreement with Nextdor Property Communications Sdn Bhd executive director Imran Clyde (left), witnessed by Housing and Local Government deputy minister YBM Senator Dato’ Raja Kamarul Bahrin (middle).

“Our iteration of PWA acts as our follow up to the UN-Habitat sponsored Placemaking Week Wuhan where a Wuhan Declaration was mooted and accepted by participants.

Taking place in December last year, participants pledged to promote city-building through placemaking to maximise the shared value of the public realm”, said Hamdan.

Three themes were selected as focus areas for PWA 2019 which includes waterfronts, historic streets as well as healthy communities.

Hamdan added that urban waterfronts are central to the life of the community and when integrated into the existing urban fabric, they can be great public spaces that are accessible and full of activity all year round.

Historical streets also face pressure from development or are isolated from the broader transformation of a city, however, human-scaled qualities make these areas so valuable resulting in their lasting appeal.

Thus placemaking is crucial; the legacy of these vital historic public spaces meriting an interdisciplinary approach that preserves their sense of place.

Think City Sdn Bhd managing director Hamdan Abdul Majeed (left) explaining about Placemaker Week Asean 2019 to Housing and Local Government deputy minister YBM Senator Dato’ Raja Kamarul Bahrin (middle) after the unveiling and official launch of the Placemaker Week ASEAN.

Public spaces at best, create an enabling environment for healthy living as well as communities. This can take place via public markets that provide fresh and nutritious food or through wider use of bike lanes, the way public spaces are designed. How these places are utilised will have profound effects.

Hamdan said, “How do you develop the public realm and programme it to attract optimal usage? We want community partners such as local councils, governments bodies, non-governmental organisations, private property developers and even young people to work together to answer these questions which can lead to building a stronger sense of civic consciousness.”

The PWA is presented by Think City and UN-Habitat and co-presented by Nextdor Property Communications Sdn Bhd, European placemaking advocate STIPO and the Malaysian Institute of Planners (MIP). Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL), British Council Malaysia, Air Asia Foundation are supporters.

In April 2020, the follow-up programme to PWA will be the Placemaket Awards ASEAN (PAA), co-presented by Think City and Nextdor Property Communications.

The PAA is the first award of its kind in the region and is a special opportunity to celebrate the best in placemaking and community building throughout the ASEAN. It covers categories such as Best Rejuvenation, Best Green Place and Best Place.

(7 August 2019)