Intrinsic to everything we do at The Glass-House is the idea that people are at the heart of places, and through our annual Debates Series we create a space for people to explore and challenge their views and involvement in placemaking.
At our recent debate in Liverpool the stand-out comment for me, which came from a member of the audience, was about love: “Why don’t we build as though we’re building for someone we love?”
It struck a chord with all of us in the room, sparked online conversations on Twitter and even a few blog posts following the event. Deep within this question lies an acknowledgement that the way in which places are currently created often lacks something. But what is this ‘love’?
One of the unifying aspects of human nature is our capacity to love. It was fascinating to observe how the introduction of the concept of love in placemaking resonated with so many people. It seems more often than not that people are more capable of engaging with the value of places, shying away from more ‘fluffy’ concepts like love.
Our ‘I Value This Place’ campaign seeks to explore what makes places special, appreciated and loved even. However, even if you value a place you don’t necessarily love it, but if you love a place you value it. So should our starting point be to create places that people will love, and hence value? And how can we do that and how does creating places with love create value?
Creating places with love
We all have experiences of loving someone. I wonder whether we have all loved a place; and I wonder whether we have all contributed to making a place for someone we love? What does it mean to make places with love? Love in placemaking speaks of empathy with others and of tenderness, emotion and the things that connect us as human beings to each other and the places we inhabit in a more profound way. Experiences have more impact. Places can be more than just the backdrop to our lives (although they are perfectly good for that as well). Places can enrich and enhance social connections and social capital, they can support people to be enterprising, creative and caring. And so much more!
Placemaking with love means investing a little more when we develop, regenerate and build; investing extra care in design, in the process of placemaking, and in engaging with all those who use or encounter the spaces. Investing in the things that make a place special. Maybe it’s a case of designing with generosity – thinking about what we contribute to places, not what’s in it for us.
What have you done with love today?
Happy Valentine’s Day from The Glass-House!