School of Planning students show community spirit with placemaking projects

- October 1, 2021

Students with the PEACH Research Unit at Dartmouth Open Street in September. (Nick Pearch images; images of Agricola Open Street provided)
Students with the PEACH Research Unit at Dartmouth Open Street in September. (Nick Pearch images; images of Agricola Open Street provided)

School of Planning students from Dalhousie participated in two open street events in Halifax and Dartmouth recently in pursuit of a better understanding of how placemaking can positively contribute to communities.

At Dartmouth Open Street (Sept. 19), the PEACH on the Street: Access Alderney installation was visited by community members of all ages. The installation showcased some design ideas for how to make Alderney Plaza a more inclusive and accessible community space.

The PEACH Research Unit, led by Mikiko Terashima, an associate professor in the School of Planning, seeks to understand how planners can better consider communities for equity-seeking groups.

“Accessible environments enable participation for everyone, regardless of age, gender, physical stature, or ability,” explains Dr. Terashima. “Accessible design includes anything that improves the ease of use for people who experience a range of physical, cognitive, and mental functioning.”

A display at Alderney Landing in Dartmouth.

The Alderney placemaking project started out as a student project led by a group of master’s students who were tasked with reimagining the plaza. Since then, the project has gained momentum as more community partners have become involved. The Cities and Environment Unit, the Downtown Dartmouth Business Commission, Halifax Public Libraries, and PEACH Research Unit have been working together to design an inclusive space for people of all ages and abilities that is reflective of the community’s desires.

“People came with their dogs, bikes, strollers and more, in numbers exceeding expectation,” remarks Kate Clark, the project coordinator, of last week’s event. Attendees were eager to engage in conversation with PEACH volunteers and staff on what makes inclusive and accessible placemaking.


From Alderney to Agricola

Another group of planning students volunteered at the Agricola Open Street event in Halifax on Sept. 12.

The community building event, meant to encourage active transportation and support local business, was well received by the public.

Students designed and ran an interactive bumpout (seen above), encouraging children and adults to enjoy their local community through play.

“Having students engaged in improving our cities is an amazing thing," says Graham Gagnon, dean in the Faculty of Architecture and Planning. "The education these students are receiving at Dalhousie and the real-world experience they are gaining through these projects is going to make them exceptional city planners and community builders."


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