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Unlocking Potential

Written by Devanshi Shah | Edited by Sophiya Islam

Have you ever walked beneath a flyover, its shadow casting a sense of neglect and underutilization? These spaces, often overlooked and dismissed, hold immense potential for transformation through 'Placemaking'.

In many urban environments, the spaces under flyovers have long been considered as nothing more than transitional areas – passageways for vehicles on their way to more important destinations. These areas are often seen as dark, noisy, and uninviting. They rarely feature in the plans for urban development and community enhancement. What if this narrative can be changed? What if these spaces can be reimagined as valuable, welcoming places for people to gather, relax, and engage with their communities?

One Green Mile, Mumbai © Suleiman Merchant

Placemaking, a concept that has been gaining traction in urban planning and design, is all about turning public spaces into vibrant, people-centric places that foster community engagement, enhance quality of life, and promote sustainability. It is a powerful tool for revitalising neglected spaces and creating a sense of belonging. In an era characterized by urbanisation and rapid societal changes, creating places where people can come together, interact, and share experiences is invaluable. Placemaking encourages community engagement and empowers individuals to actively shape their immediate environments.

One of the core principles of Placemaking is community engagement. When it comes to the revitalisation of public spaces, involving the local community is key. When people have a stake in their public spaces, they are more likely to care for and contribute to their maintenance, enhancing the overall quality of life within a community. Secondly, Placemaking serves as a catalyst for sustainable urban development. By prioritising functionality and accessibility, Placemaking transforms underutilised or neglected spaces into thriving, multipurpose areas. These spaces can serve as community gardens, small playground, art installations, or even amphitheatres. By prioritising functionality, one can ensure that these spaces are adaptable to various uses and cater to a diverse range of people.

One Green Mile, Mumbai © Suleiman Merchant

Placemaking leverages art, culture, and thoughtful design to weave a visual tapestry that not only revitalises spaces but also resonates deeply with the identity and heritage of the surrounding community. In this way, the aesthetic transformation brought about by Placemaking is equally pivotal. Consider the impact of colourful murals, well-designed seating arrangements, and meticulously crafted landscapes on an urban environment. In this manner, Placemaking transcends the utilitarian function of urban spaces and transforms them into connections between people and their environment while simultaneously promoting sustainability and inclusivity.

One Green Mile, Mumbai © Suleiman Merchant

As our cities continue to evolve, it's crucial to find innovative ways to make the most of our urban spaces. Neglected areas beneath flyovers represent untapped potential for community building, cultural expression, and environmental sustainability. Placemaking offers us the tools and principles to unlock this potential, turning these spaces from overlooked underpasses into vibrant, inclusive, and environmentally friendly community destinations.


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