Placemaking – Upcycling on a whole new level

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What is placemaking?

So “placemaking”… what’s that then? Is it just another fancy marketing term for expensive agencies wanting to create popup experiences? Not necessarily…

It can mean different things to different people. It originated as a multi-faceted approach to the planning, design and management of public spaces (Wikipedia) and described a process of architects engaging with the community to create spaces that positively impact their environment, health and wellbeing.

What the term has evolved to describe is the process of creating cultural opportunities or destinations in areas undergoing regeneration, to create a “place” for people to gather and discover experiences. Often that means creating a “meanwhile use” for a location after it’s been purchased for development.

So what is meanwhile use?

But what do we mean by meanwhile use? That’s essentially an industry term for utilising a building or plot of land that has been vacated ready for development. There is often an interim period of several years where the location is vacant, as planning, designs and finance for the development are finalised.

It’s something we at Entourage specialise in, using and re-using these locations for creative purposes, working on behalf of the landowner who benefits from revenue, security, and positive PR, and for the creative companies who want to work in a unique space. It could be a new theatre stage, an attraction, an art gallery or a multi-space venue but giving these spaces new leases of life are real phoenix-from-the-ashes opportunities, and ones that we love working on! These projects can be a bit of a win-win for everyone, creating a positive economic impact to a community and cultural opportunities for artists.

What’s next for these empty spaces?

Post COVID this is even more relevant, as we see a huge amount of retail space becoming available and a rapid change in the makeup of our high streets and city centres. Great examples of the shift from retail to experience attractions are the rapid expansion of attractions such as Swingers Crazy Golf bars or Really Local Group who convert unused retail space into independent cinema and event locations.

If you are a property owner wanting to explore the idea of utilising a meanwhile use or vacant site as a cultural venue, or a creative company looking for space, get in touch as we’d love to chat about it with you.

Andy Barnes
Founder & CEO

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