Since the turn of the millennial urban regions have been growing exponentially which has put a large focus on the way cities are developing. Besides the hard factors of cities, its buildings, economy and demographics, are cities also places where people socially and culturally interact. In modernist urban planning, life in between buildings has been overlooked through rationalized processes. In order to put a greater emphasis on the co-creation of place and the needs of people, placemaking has been introduced as strategy to develop places in a more organic matter. Through a case study of five different cities in The Netherlands, this thesis studies how placemaking has been implemented as a method of urban development in The Netherlands. Through 11 qualitative in-depth interviews, visions of stakeholders involved in different placemaking processes have been brought together to gain greater insight into the way placemaking touches upon the struggles neighbourhoods and places nowadays face. The case study focusses on real life experiences through five themes: (1) area context, (2) goal setting, (3) perceived impacts, (4) challenges and (5) perceived success and results. It shows that through four overarching placemaking strategies different types of areas and issues can be tackled through placemaking. In the process of making places horizontal and vertical community relationships are strengthened and networks created. Moreover, placemaking exemplifies to be a great facilitator of areas in transition whereby it includes local stakeholders into new developments. Placemaking therefore can be a booster for the local economy, catalyst for innovation and lead to an increase in social cohesion. Notwithstanding, placemaking has opened the gates for a societal discussion as well. It has been criticized on the validity of community representation and pointed out to be a cause for gentrification. The way placemaking is implemented, for what causes and mainly for who, still needs larger attention and research. This study has justified that placemaking can be an accelerator of new developments leading to gentrification and that struggles in community representation are present. It also has shown that strategic process design can help softening the built up towards gentrification and that a focus on finding the right community representative instead of representing a whole community is a better way to build trust in a neighbourhood. Overall placemaking contributes to shaping higher quality places, not only on the hard factors of space but foremost through the soft factors.

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Wijngaarden, Y.
Cultural Economics and Entrepreneurship , Master Arts, Culture & Society
Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communication

Buhrs, Janthe. (2021, July 6). Life in between buildings: A case study on the implementation of placemaking in Dutch cities. Master Arts, Culture & Society. Retrieved from