Implacing Architecture into the Practice of Placemaking

Eleni Spiliotes
Friday 8 December 2023

Schneekloth, Lynda H., and Robert G. Shibley. Journal of Architectural Education 53, no. 3 (2000): 130–40.

This journal article examines the “expert discourse” of the architecture discipline, arguing that practitioners operate in isolation from the people they serve, engaging in a cycle of performative experimentation as a means to gain professional recognition. Schneekloth and Shipley argue that the architecture profession can only become a mechanism for social change when it is integrated into a broader framework of placemaking. As the architecture profession continues to idolize the Vitruvian “starchitect,” everyday placemaking practices in domestic and community spaces are devalued and gradually deteriorate. This article explains that placemaking requires the participation of a variety of actors, including architects, government organizations, and community groups, and access to different types of knowledge including material, local, and situated knowledge. Therefore, architectural expertise can be applied to the design of placemaking processes themselves, which require organizational, interpersonal, and creative problem-solving skills. By both embracing the contradictory nature of a diverse knowledge pool, as well as the democratic spirit of a more inclusive practice of placemaking, this article visualizes an architecture that transcends expert discourses, born from postmodern and modern theory, but bound to neither. Schneekloth and Shipley’s focus on the systemic issues of the contemporary architecture profession provides valuable insight into why peacebuilding architecture is rarely successful. Furthermore, since placemaking projects develop collaborative relationships and celebrate diverse types of place-knowledge, placemaking can itself be used as a peacebuilding tool.


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