Prajakta Kalamkar

Supervisors: Krystallia Kamvasinou and Andrew Smith

Digital Placemaking: Co-creating temporary public places using digital technologies

THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC highlighted the prominence of two key trends in urban social life: the rapid digitisation of society and the increased need for urban public spaces. These have significantly changed socio-spatial relationships and patterns of behaviours, meanings and representation in the urban built environment. While digital technologies are embraced as a convenient and feasible means of socialisation, on the other hand the effects of heightened digitisation on everyday life (such as zoom fatigue and isolation) resulted in an increased need for urban public spaces.

This research focuses on digital placemaking, a concept which engages people in places through digital technologies, and asks: ‘How can digital placemaking facilitate communities to co-create meaningful urban places? By using social networks and digital technologies, digital placemaking provides communities with new opportunities to form a sense of place, representation and agency of co-creation to make or reshape a hybrid place. This qualitative research study uses urban studies methodologies to understand how people use digital technologies to co-create urban spaces and to create meaningful attachments to them.

This research is based on two case studies: Luchtsingel Rotterdam, a bridge co-created through online crowdfunding and social media; and a co-created pocket park in Barking, east London. The examination uses an innovative combination of physical and digital methods of data collection, such as Netnography and Internet-mediated desk research, combined with face-to-face interviews and on-site observations. The results of these studies will build a comprehensive understanding of how digital placemaking can aid in the creation of place capital.

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