Adelaide, Australia was once a town that no one would describe as hip and fun. Now, thanks to innovative placemaking and a “what-the-heck-let’s-try-it” attitude, Adelaide is now rated by the London Sunday Times as number one on its list of the best places to live in the world.
According to an article on citiscope.org, “Adelaide’s transformation is the product 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. It later evolved into a sustained effort to put placemaking at the heart of how Adelaide City Council engages with the public.”‘
Splash Adelaide, the name of this program, was a fast, anything-goes approach to placemaking. Splash Adelaide projects could break any city council policy, but not break the law, creating street parties, outdoor film screenings, spontaneous orchestral performances, and urban guerilla-style vegetable gardens. Mistakes were encouraged, as a way for city administrators to learn how to do things differently. Because the programming was temporary and experimental, there was no huge risk.
Adelaide residents, businesses, and government officials thought that public participation in placemaking could be the best tool for building community and citizen capacity over time. They believed that Splash Adelaide would both transform Adelaide’s public spaces and empower citizens to become involved.
Now doesn’t that sound like something we want in the Pike District?