Cultural Planning for Small Places

City making is not about putting dots on a map, but growing lives and providing opportunities for increasingly diverse communities to come together and contribute to the public good. In our practice, cultural planning considers the increased and diversified benefits that cultural assets could bring to the community in the future, if planned for strategically. Culture here is defined as what counts as culture to the people involved — the shared beliefs, customs, rituals and values of a people in a given place and at a given time.

While big cities benefit from location and urbanisation economies, and respond to cultural buzz, smaller centres have to try and reinvent themselves if they want to retain talent and investment. In 2016 Lia Ghilardi launched her Cultural Planning for Small Places programme, which is specifically aimed at developing tools for helping rural or peri-urban centres raise awareness of their resources and become creative in the way they administer those resources for the benefit of their communities.

The programme kicked off with a series of cultural DNA mapping workshops developed with architect Tinna Harling and local stakeholders of the Co-Creation Group in the town of Gråbo in Sweden. The event was followed by a series of visioning exercises where local community representatives and key stakeholders put forward their ideas of how the town should develop over the next ten years; and which initiatives should be taken in the planning, housing, education, economic development, culture, and tourism fields to enrich and regenerate local life.

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