COVID-19: The Recovery will Happen in Public Space

Join us in Vancouver for Placemaking Week

Feb 23, 2016
Dec 14, 2017
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Visit the website for more information on Placemaking Week

This September, Vancouver B.C. will host the world’s biggest placemaking event so far, and it’s unlike anything we’ve done before. Bringing together movements, disciplines, and leaders from around world, Placemaking Week (September 12th - 18th) will help launch a new model for shaping cities. We just launched the official website for the week, so be sure to click over and sign up for our email updates, and we'll keep you posted as the agenda for Placemaking Week continues to develop.  

Why now? This October, the UN will convene Habitat III in Quito, Ecuador to formalize the New Urban Agenda—a document outlining the guidelines and goals of urban development over the next two decades. This builds upon the recent COP21 agreement, which identifies concrete actions that city leaders need to take in order to meet new emissions targets. Taken together, these agreements represent a shared commitment to dramatically transforming cities over the coming decades. To follow up these major international agreements, cities will need to explore actionable strategies for implementing these new ideas. How can a place-led approach help direct the implementation and impact of these agenda?

We are at a key historical moment for placemaking and cities; we can either take the lead now to build a better future, or we can continue down the unsustainable paths set out during the last century. More than creating better public spaces or buildings, cities need to build the capacity to self evolve and take on bigger challenges. That’s what Placemaking Week is about: coming together to envision a place-led future for cities. We’ll talk about building and scaling up local campaigns while addressing connections to global issues; we’ll also share knowledge and best practices from the best minds in the placemaking movement.

This is all building on past successes. As a result of a global advocacy movement centered around the “Future of Places” convenings led by UN-Habitat, the Ax:son Johnson Foundation, and PPS, Habitat III already acknowledges that strong public spaces are the foundation of healthy, prosperous cities. Now we need to build on this effort, growing and evolving the placemaking movement to take on urgent global challenges.

Streets as Places in our host city, Vancouver, B.C. | From Flickr via Paul Krueger
Streets as Places in our host city, Vancouver, B.C. | From Flickr via Paul Krueger

We’re still working on the final schedule and event list, but so far we have two major events planned as part of this week:


Pro Walk/Pro Bike/Pro Place is the premier conference supporting walking, bicycling and placemaking professionals. It was founded in 1980 with the belief that more and better walking and bicycling builds stronger communities and healthier, happier people. The conference endeavors to build a community of practice that connects its solutions—walking, biking, and placemaking—to global challenges.


At the Placemaking Leadership Forum, leaders and activists will share strategies to overcome obstacles to place-led development, advance major transformative agendas, and share and explore models for placemaking campaigns at all scales. The Future of Places Summit, which will kick off the Forum, highlighting relevant research and actionable strategies for advancing placemaking locally and globally.

Granville Island
One of our favorite public spaces, Vancouver's Granville Island | Photo by Fred Kent

Excited yet? We certainly are. PPS President Fred Kent believes it will have a huge impact around the world, saying, “This is a big deal, an event that can grow the placemaking movement in the same way Earth Day in 1970 built up the environmental movement.”

We’re going to announce specific ways that you can get involved over the next few months, but for now the best way to stay updated is to subscribe to our email list.

See you in Vancouver!

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COVID-19: The Recovery will Happen in Public Space