International Plenum Conference on Digital Urban Placemaking



The Concluding Conference on Digital Urban Placemaking took place in Romania, April 15-17, in Bucharest and Constanța. The conference commenced with a warm welcome extended by Zsuzsa Varga, the Action Chair of CA 18204 Dynamics of Placemaking, Pekka Tuominen, the Vice Chair and representatives of the hosting University and local organizers. The welcoming speeches at the Digital Urban Placemaking conference adeptly underscored the utmost importance of placemaking in urban development, resonating with the diverse array of presentations throughout the event. Discussions explored various facets of placemaking, each shedding light on its pivotal role in shaping vibrant and inclusive urban environments. Notably, the contribution “Placemaking and Urban Rivers: Memory as a Driver for Connecting People with Riverscapes” by Marluci Menezes (LNEC) and Carlos Smaniotto Costa (Universidade Lusófona) emphasized the revitalization of urban riverfronts and the integration of historical memory to create engaging public spaces. Similarly, “Neighborhood Identity: A Methodological Perspective from Nantes-France” highlighted the significance of preserving and celebrating neighborhood identity within urban contexts, showcasing placemaking's potential to foster community cohesion. Additionally, “Digital Methods in the Humanities: Research and Teaching” elucidated the transformative impact of digital tools on understanding urban spaces and informing placemaking strategies, underlining the evolving landscape of urban development. Collectively, these presentations underscored the multidimensional significance of placemaking, affirming its role as a catalyst for sustainable, resilient, and inclusive urban development.

After a productive morning session, participants engaged in networking activities during the coffee break, followed by thought-provoking panels on listener-centered approaches to soundscape analysis and teaching practices for placemaking. During the conference session on “Listener-Centered Approaches to Soundscape Analysis,” moderated by Paulina Polko, experts discussed the intricate relationship between urban soundscapes and placemaking strategies. Cristina Palmese from Paisajesensorial - Universidad Europea de Madrid, Spain, expounded on “The Soundscape and Listening as an Approach to Sensuous Urbanism,” highlighting the importance of sensory experiences in shaping urban environments. Similarly, Jose Luis Carles from Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Spain, explored “Soundscape and Listening as an Approach to Sensory Urbanism,” emphasizing the role of sound in enhancing the sensory perception of urban spaces. Gülce Kırdar from Yeditepe University, Istanbul, Turkey, presented on “Placemaking Strategy with a Multisensorial Approach,” advocating for the integration of various sensory elements in placemaking initiatives to create more engaging and inclusive urban environments.

In the subsequent session on “Teaching, Practice, and Pedagogies for Placemaking,” moderated by Ayşe Erek, educators and practitioners shared insights into effective pedagogical approaches for teaching placemaking principles. Carlos Smaniotto Costa from Universidade Lusófona, Lisbon, Portugal, Tatiana Ruchinskaya from TVR Design Consultancy, Cambridge University, UK, Dov Winer from MAKASH - ICT Applications in Education and Culture, Jerusalem, Israel, and Bahanur Nasya from Placemaking Europe Leader wonderland – platform for European architecture, Vienna, Austria, collectively provided “Insights from Pedagogies for Placemaking,” drawing from their experiences and discussions at the Lisbon Workshop. Kinga Kimic from Warsaw University of Life Sciences, Warsaw, Poland, shared perspectives on “The Role of Placemaking in the Practice of Teaching the Design of Public Spaces,” highlighting the integration of placemaking principles into design education. Dov Winer further presented “Placemaking Training and Teaching,” discussing promising approaches and frameworks identified through a survey conducted in a Virtual Mobility framework. Additionally, Aleksandra Djukic from the University of Belgrade, Serbia, contributed to the discourse with a presentation on “Placemaking in Serbia - Practice, Research, and Pedagogy,” offering valuable perspectives on the intersection of practice, research, and education in the Serbian context. Onorina Botezat, Bucharest University of Economic Sudies, presented an interdisciplinary approach “Exploring Urban Places in Literature: Integrating Imagological Studies and Spatial Analysis in Education,” underlying the idea that by integrating imagological studies and the analysis of place and space in literature into the classroom, educators can empower students to critically engage with literary texts, urban environments, and cultural representations. Tatiana Ruchinskaya concluded the session with a comprehensive overview of insights gleaned from the Lisbon Workshop. These presentations collectively underscored the importance of integrating soundscapes and multisensorial experiences into placemaking strategies while emphasizing innovative pedagogical approaches to foster effective urban design and development practices. The day concluded with a captivating city walk in Bucharest’s old town, allowing participants to observe public and private space frames, followed by a delightful dinner at Carul cu bere, providing an opportunity for informal networking and exchange of ideas.

For the second day, the participants gathered at OAR Bucharest eager to engage in discussions surrounding urban placemaking. Following registration, the conference opened with welcoming speeches delivered by prominent figures in the field. Emil Ivănescu, President of OAR Bucharest, extended a warm welcome to participants, setting the tone for the day’s discussions. Luminita Popescu, Secretary of State at The National Agency for Equal Opportunities between Women and Men, emphasized the importance of inclusivity and equality in placemaking initiatives, underlining the significance of creating safe and accessible urban environments for all. The session continued with a thought-provoking presentation by Monaliza Cirstea, Head of the Department for Preventing and Combating Violence against Women. Cirstea’s presentation, titled “Towards an Inclusive and Safe Placemaking: Public Violence Against Women,” shed light on the critical issue of gender-based violence in public spaces and explored strategies for fostering inclusivity and safety in urban environments. The morning concluded with a captivating presentation by Matei Luca Stoian, President of the Center for Excellence in Architecture, Audiovisual, and the Arts (C.E.A.A.A.). Stoian pointed the principles of Bauhaus architecture, focusing on concepts of light, lines, and shapes, and their relevance to contemporary placemaking practices. Stoian’s presentation provided attendees with valuable insights into the architectural heritage that continues to influence urban design and development today, highlighting the enduring relevance of Bauhaus principles in shaping modern cities. The second conference day continued with two engaging panel discussions focusing on critical aspects of placemaking: “Heritage, History, Memory of Placemaking” and “Development of Placemaking Initiatives.” Moderated by Isabel Lousada, the first panel delved into the intersection of heritage, history, and memory in placemaking initiatives. Heike Oevermann from TU Wien, Austria, explored “Heritage, Citizens Knowledge, and Placemaking,” emphasizing the importance of community involvement and collective memory in preserving and revitalizing urban heritage sites. Igor Nedelkovski from St. Kliment Ohridski University, Bitola, North Macedonia, presented on “4D Virtual Placemaking – A Placemaking on the Memories of the Past,” showcasing innovative approaches to digitally reconstructing and interpreting historical urban environments. Tahir Albayrak from Akdeniz University, Antalya, Turkey, discussed “Residents’ Satisfaction with Historical Places: The Application of Kano Model,” offering insights into measuring and enhancing user satisfaction with heritage sites. Stavri Nikolov from Digital Spaces Living Lab, Sofia, Bulgaria, presented on “Scalable Gender Balance Analysis of Street Names around the World Using Multi-Sensor Data and AI,” highlighting the role of data-driven approaches in promoting gender-inclusive urban environments. The second panel on the Development of Placemaking Initiatives, moderated by Zsuzsa Varga, focused on the practical aspects of implementing placemaking initiatives. Agisilaos Economou from the National Technical University of Athens, Greece, shared insights into “Urban Development and Placemaking: The Case of Nea Smyrni,” showcasing successful strategies for integrating placemaking principles into urban development projects. Matej Nikšič from the Urban Planning Institute of the Republic of Slovenia reflected on “Shaping Vibrant Communities: Reflections from the ‘Future of Placemaking’ Symposium and Training School in Ljubljana and Koper/Capodistria,” highlighting best practices and lessons learned from community-led placemaking initiatives. Paulina Polko from Akademia WSB - WSB University discussed “Security Perception as a Driver for Placemaking Initiatives,” emphasizing the role of safety and security considerations in shaping urban environments. Jelena Marić from the University of Belgrade, Serbia, presented “Designing for Wellness / Sensing the Place,” sharing insights from fieldwork in Koper and exploring the relationship between urban design, wellness, and sensory experiences.

These panel discussions provided attendees with valuable insights into the diverse challenges and opportunities inherent in placemaking, showcasing innovative approaches and best practices for creating vibrant, inclusive, and sustainable urban environments. Participants then engaged in discussions on the development of placemaking initiatives, addressing urban development challenges and strategies for creating vibrant communities. The day concluded with a visit to the House of Parliament and a dinner at Hanul lui Manuc Restaurant, offering participants a glimpse into Romania’s rich cultural heritage.


The final day of the conference started with a trip to Constanța, offering participants an opportunity to explore this coastal city’s unique urban landscape. From 11:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., the conference reconvened at the Prefecture of Constanța, where some examples of co-participation in urban placemaking were introduced to the participants by the representatives of Constanta Prefecture.

A hybrid panel, moderated by Peka Tuominen, inquired the “Impacts of Digital and Urban Placemaking upon Society.” Speakers provided insights into various aspects of placemaking and its influence on society. Ayşe Erek from Kadir Has University, Istanbul, Turkey, shared insights on the “Special Issue of the Journal of Urbanism on ‘Informal Placemaking: Social Activism and Practices of Art and Culture,’” shedding light on the role of informal placemaking in fostering community engagement and cultural expression. Branislav Antonić from the University of Belgrade, Serbia, presented “DOPMADE External Contributions,” highlighting the collaborative efforts and contributions of the Dynamics of Placemaking Action (DOPMADE) initiative in advancing placemaking research and practice. Isabel Lousada from NOVAFCSH- CICSNOVA, Lisbon Portugal, provided an overview of “DOPMADE in Lisbon,” showcasing the impact of placemaking initiatives in the city of Lisbon. Aleksandar Petrovski from the Faculty of Architecture in Skopje, North Macedonia, shared insights from a research paper focused on the outcomes of an STSM (Short-Term Scientific Mission), highlighting the significance of research in informing placemaking strategies. Ramona Mihaila, DCCU, NAEO, spoke about a future project of the COST action on the dynamics of the gender perspective in the placemaking concept to investigate public space as safe living environment in urban development.

The session also included reports from various working groups, with Pekka Tuominen and Carlos Smaniotto Costa providing updates as WG1 and WG4 leaders, respectively. The conference concluded with farewell thoughts and messages from key organizers and representatives, including Zsuzsa Varga, Pekka Tuominen, Isabel Lousada, and Ayşe Erek, expressing gratitude for the fruitful discussions and outlining future directions for the Dynamics of Placemaking Action.

This final session encapsulated the collaborative spirit of the conference, showcasing the collective efforts and insights shared by participants from diverse backgrounds and disciplines, and setting the stage for continued collaboration and innovation in the field of urban placemaking.

The Digital Urban Placemaking Concluding conference was a great opportunity to advance knowledge and understanding in the field of placemaking. The event included engaging presentations, thought-provoking discussions, and networking opportunities, and provided participants with valuable insights into innovative approaches and best practices in urban development. The conference also laid the foundation for future collaborations and initiatives aimed at creating inclusive, sustainable, and vibrant urban environments. Overall, the CA 18204 Dynamics of Placemaking conference provided a platform for interdisciplinary dialogue, fostering collaboration and innovation in the field of urban placemaking. Participants left with valuable insights and renewed enthusiasm to contribute to the creation of inclusive and vibrant urban spaces.

Closing Meeting Report
By Onorina Botezat & Ramona Mihăilă
CA 18204 Dynamics of placemaking and digitization in Europe’s cities
Date: April 15-17, 2024
Bucharest & Constanța

Meeting Date: 
Monday, April 15, 2024 to Wednesday, April 17, 2024
Bucharest & Constanta, Romania