Mott MacDonald has signed the Placemaking Wales Charter; an initiative developed by the Welsh Government, the Design Commission for Wales and the Placemaking Wales Partnership. Organisations that sign the Charter commit to support placemaking in all relevant areas of their work and promote placemaking in the planning, design, and management of new and existing spaces.
“The Charter asks us to take an integrated approach to all our projects, looking beyond the redline boundary of any individual project to achieve a range of positive outcomes for communities,” said Andrew Gibbins, technical director of urban design at Mott MacDonald.
“Each new piece of infrastructure, each new development needs to serve, and fully integrate into, the community around it. We need to look at everything from sustainable methods of transport and availability of local amenities, right through to the individual history, culture and identity of that place.”
Traditionally thought of as being related solely to the built environment of the public realm, the Charter takes an expanded definition of placemaking to include far wider societal benefits. The Charter outlines six principles of placemaking:
People and community: that the local community is involved in the development of proposals. The needs, aspirations, health and well-being of all people are considered at the outset. Proposals are shaped to help to meet these needs as well as create, integrate, protect and/or enhance a sense of community and promote equality.
Movement: that walking, cycling and public transport are prioritised to provide a choice of transport modes and avoid dependence on private vehicles. Well designed routes connect to the wider active travel and public transport network and public transport stations and stops are positively integrated.
Public realm: streets and spaces are well defined, welcoming, safe and inclusive with a distinct identity. They are designed to be robust and adaptable with landscape, green infrastructure and with sustainable drainage. They are well connected to existing places and promote opportunities for social interaction and a range of activities for all people.
Location: places grow and develop in a way that uses land efficiently, supports and enhances existing places and is well connected. The location of housing, employment and leisure and other facilities are planned to help reduce the need to travel.
Mix of uses: places have a range of purposes which provide opportunities for community development, local business growth and access to jobs, services and facilities via walking, cycling or public transport. Development density and a mix of uses and tenures helps to support a diverse community and vibrant public realm.
Identity: the positive, distinctive qualities of existing places are valued and respected. The unique features and opportunities of a location including heritage, culture, language, built and national physical attributes are identified and responded to.
Andrew continued: “Clearly the challenge provided by the charter is in the ways of working. Not only is a wide pool of expertise required when thinking about urban design holistically like this, but also a culture of connected thinking. At Mott MacDonald we are able to tap into a multidisciplinary team to deliver positive social outcomes on all our projects.”
“We see our role as advocates for the principles outlined in the Charter. We need to communicate these to our clients and how practical application can deliver demonstrable value.”
“This is a radical reimagining of placemaking, and we are proud to be standard bearers for this new approach to design in Wales and fully commit to its principles.”