Join PPS on September 15-17, 2010 for “Waterfront Synopsis”, an international gathering around the topic of “Placemaking and Sustainability” on waterfronts hosted by Project for Public Spaces, Inc. (PPS) and the Nordic Urban Design Association (NUDA) in Stavanger, Norway.

The goal of the Synopsis is to bring the forces of environmentalism, climate change and sustainability together with the ideas of community, livability, health and Placemaking. There are many new ways of realizing a different future as the impact of “Place” and “Placemaking” take hold in cities around the world. For more and more people, Placemaking is being viewed as a transformative agenda for creating changes in how government is structured, how communities are engaged, how new processes around civic engagement are developed, and how professionals can be repositioned as leaders in these important times.

Why Norway?

Norway is one of the world leaders today in determining how to assess, develop and improve cities so that they provide sustainable assets for their citizens in the future. The “Future Cities Program” currently being undertaken by the Ministry of Environment in Norway has the potential to provide a replicable model for connecting cities, governments and people around sustainable development models.

Stavanger is one of the best waterfront cities in the world. This setting, along with Norway’s vision and the idea of Placemaking, could make the Waterfront Synopsis the beginning of a major shift in the way we view waterfronts and communities in the future. It will be an opportunity to connect agendas for the first time and will give leaders from all over the world the opportunity to both learn from and inspire others.

Why PPS?

For the last 35 years, PPS has been committed to facilitating the development of successful public spaces in cities throughout the world.  Although waterfronts are one of the most important public spaces in cities, the majority of leaders have not yet been able to raise the discussion about waterfront development to a level where new models are being  considered  and implemented based on the community’s vision. If Placemaking was truly integrated into waterfront planning processes, citizens throughout the world would be equipped and empowered in ways that are natural, traditional, and time-honored – the way that communities organized themselves historically in cities around the world before the 1850’s.

Why NUDA?

NUDA’s goal is to provide a setting in which the challenges involved in undertaking waterfront development are presented and discussed candidly so that the international audience can learn from others experiencing similar challenges on waterfront development.  NUDA advocates for an understanding of urban design as more than just designing streets and public spaces through traditional design principles.

What are the themes that will be discussed at “Waterfront Synopsis”?

The important themes of the conference include creating “Multi-use Destinations”,  forging an “Architecture of Place”, expanding the idea of accessibility and the role of transportation on waterfronts and the important potential impact of markets on local economies.

  • Creating “Multi-use Destinations” on Waterfronts: Multi-use destinations define what a city is about and are the premier public spaces in a city that attract and highlight the local assets and unique talents and skills of the community.  The combination of uses – educational, cultural, retail, and commercial – are open and available for visitors to freely partake in and are accessible physically, and in terms of how they are perceived.  Successful multi-use destinations are always changing because they are flexible enough to easily adapt to different times of day and year and they are proactively managed to take advantage of these differences.
  • Forging an “Architecture of Place”: In many ways, iconic buildings have defined the past 50 years of modern architecture in cities. However, as cities and waterfronts evolve, a new idea of design is emerging called an “architecture of place”, which indicates that cities will become more livable, sustainable and authentic in the future. Public institutions such as museums, government buildings and libraries will become important anchors for civic activity that host a broader range of activities than they currently do and a new type of design will support that quest.

  • Expanding the Idea of Accessibility and the Role of Transportation: In the last 100 years cities, (particularly waterfronts), have been defined by transportation decisions that were geared largely in favor of the car. The result is a system of streets and highways that reinforce a design ethos that is more about seeing or viewing rather than participating in communities. However, we are now seeing a massive shift in cities throughout the world where people want to get back to the idea of place, connecting within communities, supporting local services, spending time in public spaces and being part of local communities rather than in disjointed, unconnected places with no local character. In this new vision, the automobile plays a secondary role to transit, bicycles and the pedestrian.  Waterfronts are the key place in cities where these issues are enacted.
  • Understanding the potential impact of Markets and Local Economies on Waterfronts: Historically, markets have played an important role in the development of waterfronts and continue in this role today.  From small neighborhood farmers markets to urban market districts, public markets are not only great community gathering places, they can also be economic generators that have a broad impact on their community’s overall development.  Markets located on waterfronts play a particularly important role in establishing a connection between the waterfront and the rest of a community.

For more information about the Waterfront Synopsis Conference, and to register, click here.