The morphology of placemaking – from urban guerrilla and formal street experiments to mobility and metropolitan regions

Verônica Natividade, Ana Rivas, Benjamin Büttner, Todor Stojanovski

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution book

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Placemaking is becoming a mainstreaming paradigm in planning. It arises from urbanist advocacy for small-scale, incremental, "do-it-yourself" (DIY) urban improvements referred to as guerrilla, pop-up, tactical, DIY or everyday urbanism. It is defined as any act of citizens to change their urban environment. It involves collectively creating, transforming, maintaining and renovating the places in which they live. It includes daily actions and everyday routines and special, celebratory one-time events. This paper looks at placemaking interventions and street experiments in Brazil, Mexico, Sweden and Germany from a morphological perspective. It creates a quadrant of placemaking where it pins various projects on the axes formal-informal, designed-not designed, expert initiatives or local community engagement to classify placemaking acts from informal beatifications such as painting and graffiti, arty insertions, celebratory events as well as more formalised interventions, like parking replacement, repurposing street sections and transforming entire streets. It argues that the bureaucratic planners did not thwart the very vibrancy and spirit of the bottom-up everyday urbanism. Instead, we see gradual urbanists institutionalising placemaking as a planning paradigm. However, placemakers have remained on the smallest scale in cities, restricted to the street scale in particular, not concerned with the neighbourhood or regional scale where cities are experienced on the move. For urban morphologists, one question emerges: how placemaking fits at various morphological scales and how planners and urban designers who work with neighbourhoods can harness the rise of placemaking to work on multiple resolutions, from the street to the metropolitan region?
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAnnual Conference Proceedings of the XXVIII International Seminar on Urban Form
Subtitle of host publication"Urban Form and the Sustainable and Prosperous City"
Place of PublicationGlasgow
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - 8 Apr 2022


  • placemaking
  • street experiments
  • urban morphology
  • urban design


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