Reinventing Spaces
PALACE Magazine|Issue 26
Old spaces and places around the world are getting a fresh lease of life through this new urban management strategy
Felicia Soon

The urban landscape is constantly evolving under the influence of new buildings and modern infrastructure. The challenge for today’s designers and architects in creating a development that not only adds value to the community but also respects and maintains historical landmarks and identity.

Through placemaking, older buildings can be given a new purpose and lease of life. It’s a relatively novel concept for younger nations in Asia, but it is fast becoming the preferred method of planning, designing and adaptation of existing places to suit modern needs. Because it involves repurposing existing buildings and locations, placemaking can help reduce development and building costs. One example is the Penang’s Hin Bus Depot, which was an abandoned bus depot originally owned by the Hin Bus Company. It was converted into an art gallery and event space, breathing new life into the depot and surrounding area.

Kuala Lumpur’s Zhongshan Building, in the heart of the city, once housed the Selangor Zhongshan Association. It has been repurposed as an independent arts and research hub.

Design is no longer about making shiny, new things. A building no longer just serves a singular purpose, but rather becomes a catalyst for the community it is located in. A development should encourage community engagement and offer opportunities to add value. Developers must be conscious of community needs and offer a viable solution through its design. Property development is now about creating holistic and sustainable planned developments, offering everything a resident would need.

Apart from creating new urban focal points, the aim of placemaking is to turn a common or public area into an attractive, comfortable and trendy place that will draw people to the space.

Today, placemaking has emerged as the new development paradigm in many cities, especially for Asian property developers who venture abroad to grow their property development portfolio.

EFFECTIVE PLACEMAKING CAN YIELD POTENTIAL UPSIDES FOR THE WHOLE COMMUNITY

Placemaking can be implemented anywhere, such as in an entire downtown distinct or a single neighbourhood or building. It includes a wide range of transformation from the development of cultural districts and creative clusters to pop-up public art and artist residences in local communities.

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