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5 Discussion Topics Surrounding Placemaking: Becoming a Place People Remember and Long to Be

Placemaking is the concept of using shared amenities to increase social relationships by creating some strong ties to identity of the place. Placemaking embodies being intentional with your efforts. For instance, a plaza shared by several buildings where workers sit down to rest and relax, have lunch, and experience the benefits created by the plaza. The end result is a strengthened relationship between people because of their shared interest in the plaza. Instead of just saying, “we need a building,” we begin to realize small decisions are important because they can impact when people come and how long they will stay.

Contrary to what some may assume, expensive building materials rarely contribute to this phenomena. Of course, physical comfort plays a huge role. Proportions also play a large role in blog-12-01how comfortable we feel, as do colors and the availability of natural light. As we become more detailed in the descriptions of the spaces need on our list, we can begin to consider traits that would make up the best spaces for each of our uses.  

 For example, heights of ceilings are necessary discussion. When you get more than twenty or so people in a room, and you have a ceiling that’s eight feet tall, it becomes very claustrophobic. Therefore, the larger the room and the more people likely to occupy it, the taller the ceilings need to be. This is one simple example, but we will want to look at each place/use and determine what characteristics would make it ideal for all of your uses. Later, we will need to prioritize, and some of these items may have to go or be postponed for later phase; however, if we know what they are, we can plan ahead.

Designing your building should be fun. Creating a space to host the needs of the entire ministry effort of the church, from worship and fellowship to everything that makes up your own church culture, may seem like a daunting task on some days – but on the other days it will prove one of the most rewarding works of your life. Draw on your architect’s team for their ideas and experience, but keep your eyes wide open for clever designs you can share with the group. Keep yourself inspired along the way by visiting other churches and buildings you admire. Remember to have fun…being a leader in this role is a great honor.

DISCUSSION TOPICS:

  1.  Have you ever noticed that in certain places, you are just apt to stay longer? What are some of those places, and what are the reasons you’ll stay? How do you feel when you are there? Share with the group and discuss.
  2. What traits make up your “ideal” worship space? Is this because it relates strongly to the blog-12-02culture of your church, or some other reason?
  3. Are there ministry opportunities, or even ongoing ministry efforts, which would be served by functional outdoor spaces on your church site? Could these efforts easily be accomplished at a public park or other free space, or is there value in such spaces being located onsite? Is this value enough to warrant an investment in such elements?
  4. Is there a specific group of people that you would like to minister to as a church body? How can you design facilities to meet their needs?

If you are in a place where you would like to serve a group of people and do not quite know how, ask some members of that group to come talk to you about their needs. Really listen to what they tell you, and then visualize how you can possibly work to serve them and meet their real needs. What implications are there for your facilities?

If any questions come to my mind, please feel free to email us at info@plannorth.com

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