The 8P’s to Cultivate a Great Place
“I love that place!”
“Nah, it wasn’t for me”
“Yeah, it was okay, I wouldn’t go back though”
“It just felt great being there”
What makes a great place? A broad and subjective question with varying answers depending on the person, their frame of mind…and even the weather!
At MIPIM 2019, we hosted a breakfast with our friends over at SAY Property and workshopped this very question. We asked attendees ‘What makes a great place?’. The 74 answers we received fell into 13 categories.
Feelings or Emotions associated with a place scored most highly (12%). This was followed by People and Safety (both 11%), then Community, Nature & Environment, Interaction and Buildings & Design (all 10%) and Lifestyle & Diversity (both 8%). Surprisingly the lowest scoring categories were Accessibility (3%) and Technology (just 1%).
50% of the answers given were people-centred words and 50% place-centred. How people experience and classify space as individuals and communities are just as important as the quality and composition of the built environment.
We found the lack of answers regarding accessibility and technology interesting – perhaps a reflection purely of attendee demographics and interests, or perhaps indicative of accessibility and integrated tech being seen less as added extras or siloed considerations, and increasingly as standard expectations in the current/future-facing market.
At Conductor, we’ve been spending some time and effort giving this question some more thought, gathering insight and continuing to expand our thinking and debate on the very subject. We’ve categorised the key ingredients of a great place into “8 P’s”:
Planning – great places, old and new, have firm foundations in sound planning. For us it starts with gathering insight into the needs and wants of those that are going to Participate in the place and then using this evidence coupled with predicted future trends, to design a place that caters specifically to those needs. Co-creation and collaboration with participants are key.
Purpose – asking the question at the outset, “why does this place exist?”, and “so what?”, is essential. Great places need a Personality (our 3rd P!). Some call this authenticity or character, others “rarity value”. Call it what you like, this is essential, especially in new or regeneration places. There is always an existing story or history. Inherent in a place, an existing and unique community to be rejuvenated or tapped into. It just takes some time, effort and thoughtfulness to tap into and once you uncover it, the Purpose will be clear.
Participation – or actively taking part in the place. We believe that this creates stewardship, so whether Participants are visiting, living or working there, they feel a sense of ownership and belonging and the benefits of this to the community and spaces within it, are boundless.
Proximity – or convenience. This one has caused great debate within the Conductor team. Some of the best places are very remote but in an urban context, of course, Proximity to transport and ease of being in the place, certainly contribute to perceptions of a place being great or not. Maybe not the most exciting of the “P’s” but necessary none the least.
Prosperity – and no we don’t mean prosperity in the form of money or financial gain! Does the place feel like it is flourishing and has good fortune bestowed upon it? Are the Participants fulfilled, is there community spirit? Are the conditions in the place favourable for all? Is the society thriving?
Preference – or choice. This relates back to Participation and Planning. Are there options and does the place cater to different demographics even if it is targeted at those with certain tastes and preferences? We are not saying that places should be all things to all people, what we are saying is that diversity and inclusion is the very fabric of a great place. In the beautiful tapestry of life, variety and different types of people are what attracts an interesting and most importantly, sustainable community.
This leads on to Pleasure (our 8th and final P), and is simple, what Pleasure do Participants derive from the place? There has to be a joyful and uplifting element to a place to create the feeling of it being truly great.
So, to circle back – the physical fabric of a place is just as important as the people within it, how people feel in a place will determine largely whether they think it is great or not and finally, each and every one of us will have a different perception of a place, so if we look at the place we are planning, creating or rejuvenating, it is worth thinking consciously about these 8P’s and making sure that these key attributes are covered.
written by Charlotte Constance for The Class of 2020 Trends Report
Charlotte is the founder of Conductor, Orchestrators of Thriving societies whose purpose is to facilitate more conscious creation of spaces and places.