Daniel Lim on placemaking and urban regeneration

Daniel leads the placemaking practice in Think City—a consultancy and project delivery partner, working in four key areas: placemaking, resilience (environmental and social), analytics and conservation—and has spent a decade pioneering projects to activate spaces through placemaking in Penang, Johor Bahru and Kuala Lumpur. Aside from placemaking, he advocates social inclusion and community participation in culture-based urban regeneration efforts. Collaborating with local stakeholders, he is currently working on several demonstration projects aimed at innovating urban solutions and highlighting the potential of public space usage. With Construction+, Daniel shares his views on placemaking in Malaysia and its challenges, as well as the implementation of a network-based urban systems paradigm.

How does placemaking play out in culture-based urban regeneration?

Placemaking is a process of creating places to strengthen the connections between people and place. It is not a destination, but rather a journey. Without the process of placemaking, ‘Disneyfication’ of a space could not happen. Cultural heritage plays an important role. It is a great tool to get community participation and increase a sense of association to the urban regeneration efforts, which are vital elements of placemaking. Placemaking’s real value emerges when we can find a balance between positive regeneration and gentrification.

What are the current challenges for creative placemaking to be truly embraced and embedded within the urban life in Malaysia?

The misunderstanding that placemaking is all about huge activation projects, such as festivals and grandiose activities, could be responsible for this; whereas the essence of placemaking is about creating a sense of ownership, be it with the immediate communities or the wider group beyond the local community. The results are not limited to the moments of activation during events, but in its day-to-day activities and long-term endurance.

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