WIT Press

Place-making and its implications for social value: a comparison study of two urban squares in London


Free (open access)


Volume 12 (2017), Issue 4



Page Range

752 - 762

Paper DOI



WIT Press




This article aims to investigate the impact of place-making on the social value attached to two recently developed public squares in London. Empire and Bermondsey developments were developed with the explicit intention to have a public open space that is available for its residents and the surrounding community. Place-making supports the concept of generating places that improve the relationship between users and space, by increasing a sense of place. In this respect, social value is an intangible benefit that can be captured from places that shape community attitude and might often cater to necessary activities but is essential to everyday functions. Based on an extensive review of the literature and empirical work, this article will explore the similarities and differences between these two squares to deliver a better understanding of the reasons behind the urban design as a place-making tool in generating social values attached to physical spaces. These two squares are comparable in size, physical setting and geographical and social context providing unique contexts for socio-spatial analysis. This study follows a case-study approach. For both case studies, there are 100 surveys and 33 semi-structured interviews in total conducted with participants at the squares. Also, many site observations for this study have been taken, in both cases, at different times of the day tracking human movement, activities, spatial qualities, social interactions and spatial interrelations. The data gathered facilitate explicit connections between the behavioural, perceptual and social dimensions. These relationships are essential to understanding the role of urban design in adding social value. This study demonstrates the complex nature of the generation of social value in urban spaces through place-making.


place-making, public space, social value, urban design