Cities are dynamic, chaotic, constantly changing and living organisms with the diversity they
contain. People are the most important factor that keeps the city alive and sustains. The city and the people are in constant interaction with each other, and they need each other. It is the people who make the city a city. The places where people meet, find themselves, and interact with other people are the public spaces of the city and it promotes collectivism, action, spectacle, and the production of dialogue through interaction (Jelenski, 2017). There are many factors that define public spaces in any city, so we can say that public spaces are multidimensional. Its multi-dimensional structure can accommodate many different users. Although well-designed public spaces attract the attention of most users, failed public spaces may fail to attract users and remain dead spaces. This article will discuss how public spaces gain more importance and develop thanks to placemaking and how public spaces can be designed in the future through urban and architectural design examples.
Public spaces are social spaces that bring people together. Placemaking, which improves publicspaces and makes them people-oriented, means creating spaces, and it is necessary to understand people's needs, aspirations, and desires in order to strengthen the connections between people and these places. Therefore, it is an ongoing process based on community participation. Jane Jacobs and William Whyte are the two main characters in the formation of the placemaking concept. According to them, designing a park or plaza with effective pedestrian circulation was not enough to create a lively space for people (Project for Public Spaces, 2010). The Seagram building, which I think is the
pioneer building, created a lively environment with its architectural elements by setback in from the grid system, unlike the block structure we are used to seeing in Manhattan morphology (Lambert, 2013). William Whyte examined the architectural elements in the Seagram building and analyzed the people sitting next to the water element, shading, and sunbathing under the tree, taking a hotdog meal during office breaks, and talked about the importance of how the space becomes alive and diversified when we bring together different interaction elements. Instead of creating an effective plaza circulation, Mies van der Rohe brought together the wishes and aspirations of the people in need, ensuring that different activities take place at the same time. The analyzes made by William Whyte, who helped to create awareness, formed the building blocks of Placemaking.
Placemaking and bottom-up has the same design fundamentals. Bottom-up is a collective process that is produced together with people by taking the ideas of people. “Placemaking shows people just how powerful their collective vision can be.” (Project for Public Spaces, 2007). The important thing here is to determine the needs of each person and create the space accordingly, and this space creation process may vary according to location, time, culture, and people. Placemaking also creates people-oriented spaces by integrating different views into a harmonious vision, and thus cities are brought back to people. Thanks to placemaking, existing public spaces become better quality, long-lasting and appealing to more people. In this process, the factor that improves these places is people. The placemaking process, which allows people to interact and be together, also proves that function prevails over form. For this reason, people, who are not only users of the space, but also the people who create the space, give the space a function according to their own wishes and needs.
There are some non-governmental organizations that assist in the space creation process. For instance, Barcelona is a large and complex city. The urbanization process in Barcelona has become a threat to people's happiness, health, and well-being. (Ott, 2019) In Barcelona, the idea of Super Block was put forward against this problem. The aim is to provide the social spaces that people need on the streets. Therefore, there is a need to move vehicles away from the city center. As Jacob said, “Cities have the capability of providing something for everybody, only because, and only when, they are created by everybody.” (Jacob, 1916). Platforms were set up on the streets in Barcelona, and environments were created where people's thoughts, needs, and wishes were discussed, and joint decisions were taken. In this process, non-governmental organizations and each individual have undertaken an important task. Jacob focuses on the importance of vibrant neighborhoods in his research. Yeldeğirmeni neighborhood, which I observed as a lively neighborhood in Turkey, may have a suitable ground for the placemaking process. Neighborhood residents close the streets on special days and holidays and form streets where entertainment and activities of their own dominate. Street activities that are decided jointly by all neighborhood residents can be defined as a natural process that occurs spontaneously. As another example, in the square where the Kadıköy Bull statue was located, people were sitting on the stairs, and TAK, observing this, designed comfortable seating areas for people in the area, creating social public spaces where people could interact with other people and thanks to this new arrangement, the number of people using this place has increased. The most important factor that attracts people in the public space is that other people use this space effectively. “What attracts people most, it would appear, is other people.” (Whyte, 1980).
The concept of space has changed with the pandemic and continues to change. People yearn for public spaces and communication with other people. Indoor spaces such as schools, dining places and shopping areas, conference halls have lost their importance, and open spaces have gained importance, so empty urban spaces that have not been explored in cities before having been re-discovered and defined by the user. Friend gatherings, small concerts, cinemas moved to open spaces, and the placemaking process naturally started by itself. Especially with the acceleration of placemaking with the Pandemic, many places have entered the transformation process. As an example, the PreCollinear park in Turin has opened the tram line, which was closed during the pandemic, to the public. Non-profit, open-air activities, classrooms and exhibition areas designed with only people's happiness in mind have been designed to give the space a multidimensionality. (Ballarini, 2021) Therefore, the spatial changes we observed in the pandemic can give a clue about the way to be followed when defining spaces in the future.
Public spaces, which are social spaces that bring people together with the city and other people, continue to maintain their vitality thanks to the people they house. As we have seen in the examples, cities can be designed according to people, together with people if desired. The Placemaking process, which listens to people, observes, and progresses in line with their wishes, continues to increase the quality of the public space and ensure the interaction of people by creating human-oriented spaces. As Fred said, “Everyone has the right to live in a great place. More importantly, everyone has the right to contribute to making the place where they already live great.” (Kent,2013). If we build our cities, which are our living spaces, around public spaces, and design public spaces together with the human-oriented placemaking process, we can be happier, healthier and wealthier than we are now.
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