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The Promise of Pop-Up Placemaking

With the support of its executive leadership, Adelaide, Australia's experimentalist city council has encouraged ephemeral projects to enliven streets. "Splash Adelaide" projects can even override council policy.
May 12, 2015, 6am PDT | Philip Rojc | @PhilipRojc
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La Citta Vita

As CEO of Adelaide, Peter Smith presided over the city's distinct shift from staid and workaday to trendy. The city's placemaking program, Splash Adelaide, consists of "simple and inexpensive strategies for activating its public spaces. It started a few years ago with light-weight interventions such as shutting down a street to cars for a night, giving it over to food vendors and musicians, and giving those commuters a reason to linger after work."

Temporary rule-breaking has encouraged disruptive change: "Splash Adelaide projects could break any council policy, but not break the law [...] The idea was to 'consult by doing' and to get businesses and residents to think about shared spaces in new ways. Because the interventions were temporary and experimental, there was no huge risk."

Appropriately, Adelaide consulted with Gehl Architects to develop the plan. While Splash Adelaide has had success challenging "the notion that economic development happens through big, contentious projects," its open fairs and street retail have drawn criticism from heavily regulated traditional businesses. 

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Published on Wednesday, April 29, 2015 in Citiscope
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