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Place Leaders Asia Pacific is delighted to announce the recipients of the 2015 Place Leaders Asia Pacific Awards.

The jury makes a special note that all the submissions were of an extremely high standard and illustrate the progression of an industry that is barely a decade old. The mainstreaming of place making and related practices into the planning, management, activation and delivery of built environments is not just a ‘tick the box’ for the organisations that submitted this year, it is the foundation of their whole approach and for this we would like to congratulate them all on their efforts.


WINNER: Parramatta City Council, for ‘Centenary Square’

The delivery of Parramatta City Council’s revitalised Church Street Mall displayed a strategic and comprehensive approach to tackling a complex urban problem – what to do when nobody trusts your place anymore. The project is demonstrative of how successful an integrated ‘whole of council’ approach with a strong research foundation and understanding of the complexity of an issue can be successful in repositioning and redefining an urban space in decline.

Understanding the reasons for the area’s decline became the drivers of positive change as well as a measure of its current success. The jury commends the team for their clear definition of project objectives and the realization of an outcome that not only creates a useable, multi functioning public space for the city but that has done so while changing the public’s negative perception of a space previously dominated by undesirable activity and crime.

PLACE PROJECT COMMENDATION: Adelaide City Council, for ‘Invigorate your Senses – Topham to Market’

Adelaide City Council’s project in Topham Mall is an example of how an organization-wide strategy can be localised to respond to the specifics of a location. Understanding that change requires the community to have the capacity for doing things differently, the Council commenced with an extended engagement program. The aim of this project was to build relationships and test ideas on the ground before developing a longer term plan for investment in infrastructure.

The collaborative approach included business owners and the University of South Australia and a shared spirit of enthusiasm for revitalization that has resulted in multiple benefits for all involved, including the wider community, who now have a new destination in the city, not just a thoroughfare.


WINNER – CoDesign Studio, for ‘Contribution to Tactical Urbanism’

At a time when pop ups risk becoming a somewhat shallow trend, CoDesign Studio’s approach reminds us of the deeper opportunities for social inclusion that urban planning can offer. CoDesign has tested, developed and shared a range of tools and processes that support the tactical urbanism movement – a city and citizen-led approach to neighbourhood building using short-term, low-cost and scalable interventions to catalyse long-term change.

The organisation has helped many others to de-risk community engagement in place creation and enhancement, and trial rapid prototyping and experimentation as tools to manage change. Their revitalisation tool kit and tactical urbanism publication have helped empower individuals and communities with the support to make positive and lasting changes to their own places.

As a social enterprise CoDesign Studio exemplifies how the evolution and disruption of traditional industries and processes can benefit all.

PLACE PROCESS COMMENDATION: Greater Taree City Council, for ‘Improving the Taree Town Centre’

Only a few years ago, the town of Taree was facing a problem shared by many smaller regional towns across Australia. Large supermarkets bookended the main street, retailers were struggling, the street was empty of life and it felt like the town itself was dying.

The truly collaborative and grassroots process that developed from this situation is a model worthy of replication. With a lack of significant resources the solution was an iterative, committed and now self-sustaining partnership between the business community and Council.

Catalysed by inspirational planning sessions with David Engwicht, three major initiatives were developed that empowered the community and local businesses to be the drivers of positive change within their community. The ongoing projects – Tidy Up Taree, the Night Bazaar and the Vibrant Spaces Project, have involved literally thousands of people and triggered planning control changes by Council. Improving the Taree Town Centre is a case study for other small towns to stimulate their own local economies and create meaningful change through the engagement of local community and business owners.


Centrepiece Award – City of Canada Bay for, ‘Place leadership and innovation across governance, planning, process and project deliver.’

This year the jury determined that an organisation rather than its individual projects and processes be recognised with the Centrepiece Award for Place Leadership. The City of Canada Bay submitted four different projects and processes to this year’s awards but it is not the number rather the quality, innovation and diversity of scale and scope these submissions represented that caught the jury’s attention.

As such this award recognises the overall ambition and success of the City of Canada Bay’s place led approach to place governance, planning, processes and project delivery.

The City of Canada Bay faces both extremes of urban management – rapid population growth and density, as well as traditional and conservative suburbs resistant to change. As a Council they have been proactive and innovative in developing new governance, planning, partnership and operational models – a diverse palette of solutions designed to meet the specific challenges of their varied communities.

This has ranged from large scale, long term strategic planning for new growth areas to fine grain social programs to reduce social isolation in older resident groups and developing new place management models through partnerships.

The jury felt that both the overall approach of the City of Canada Bay as well as its many excellent case studies were an opportunity for all Councils. The processes already tested, the projects already de-risked, can be utilised as a model for other organisations. We congratulate them and encourage them to continue to lead by example.


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