Meaning of placemaking in BTR

December 14, 2023

Placemaking is generally described as creating public spaces that promote people's health, happiness, and well-being. Placemaking also usually means involving people in the design of inspiring, shared spaces, with the aim of creating vibrant communities.

We want to raise the topic of placemaking in today's built-to-rent (‘BTR’) sector, highlighting the importance of all aspects of placemaking in enabling a successful and thriving residential community.

From the 1960s to today

The concept of placemaking originates from the 1960s when the idea of designing cities for people instead of cars and shopping centres was introduced for the first time. This groundbreaking idea spread to architecture and urban planning in the 1970s. There was a drive and a passion to bring people and social life into public spaces, both indoors and outdoors, by building lively neighbourhoods and public spaces where people want to spend their time. 

Placemaking has only gotten new importance in our fast-developing urban communities, where for example fighting loneliness and living in a more sustainable way are common themes. And placemaking can have a big influence on contributing to these themes, if carried out in a holistic way.

We wrote a dedicated post on this topic for World Mental Health Day, which you can read here.

All dimensions of placemaking in BTR

Our CEO and co-founder William Shaw wrote about the topic on Linkedin recently – you can read it here. His writing was inspired by an article by Christopher Mizen from real estate advisors Gerald Eve, who also argued, that placemaking goes far beyond the planning and design of built-to-rent schemes.

William also underlined in his article, how the definition of placemaking covers so much more than the physical characteristics of a building. “We’ve all visited, or perhaps even lived and worked in buildings that look attractive, but are utterly soulless and lacking in any kind of community. Looks only go so far in BTR”, William writes.

Indeed, more and more of today's buildings are being built to look good, to be stylish, and, increasingly, to be made of sustainable materials. This all is important, and inarguably a part of placemaking in BTR. But too often it stops there. People move in, and yes, at first they find the building attractive. But in the long run, if the aspect of a community is missing, it just becomes a collection of – maybe good-looking, but soulless walls put together.

That's why actively building and facilitating communities and fostering a sense of belonging is an important part of the placemaking of today.

Build communities with help of technology

Hococo’s technology is designed to facilitate communities in your buildings. Communities that make people connect, know each other, and get that sense of belonging to something bigger. 

Maybe that community develops into friends. It has been researched by Apartment Life that there is a direct link between the number of friendships a resident has in the community and their likelihood to renew their lease. One friend in the building can raise the intent to renew the lease to 38%. With seven or more friends in the building, the chances grow as high as 47 %.

Moreover, belonging to a community, having friends and social interactions in the property you live in contribute to better health and overall satisfaction –  and most notably, it contributes directly to people’s mental health. 

While property owners operate from a financial perspective, every business today must also think about the wider impact on society. And here’s a chance for real estate professionals to have an influence. 

Hococo enables owners and operators to build community within their schemes for example by

  • posting community events, notifications, and information
  • facilitating interaction between residents. 

Read more about our Resident App.

Image: Thoa Heftiba / Unsplash

Brand your property as a place to live

Although branding is often associated with only how a company is perceived by outsiders, it actually has a big impact on creating a sense of belonging among BTR residents.

A brand aligns with people’s values, helps cement them in a particular place, and ultimately helps establish a sense of connection and loyalty to a space. It’s vital. But how exactly do you brand a building?

Branding goes far beyond a logo. It is about showcasing an identity that people can connect with and understand day-in, day-out. At Hococo, we enable building owners and operators to offer residents a beautifully branded and designed app that reflects the values, ethos, and identity of a building. 

Our app is two-fold:

  • It’s a resident’s remote control to enjoy and engage with the community in their building 
  • But it’s also a way for owners to share a brand identity, through communication, events, and community.

Read more about our Admin Hub.

Placemaking never stops – use data to succeed

There is still a prevailing idea that placemaking ends when a new building is designed, built, and opened to residents. But it certainly doesn’t stop there – it has only just started.

Without data, it is hard, often impossible for owners and operators to know how their tenants are actually behaving and why, what they want, and how satisfied they are. Without data, it's all guesswork.

Data – when used responsibly, can help landlords continually measure, adapt and iterate their offer, meaning residents’ needs and wants are met long before they get frustrated.

Again, only technology can achieve this. And if you happen to be community-building, brand-building and providing access to amenities through one app, you can collect quality data that enables you to understand how residents are engaging with their building. 

One app for everything

Yes, one app for all that, as we just mentioned in the previous chapter. Rather than seeking one solution for branding, one for building community, one for amenities booking, one for access, and one for data – why wouldn’t you work with a technology that does it all? 

If you’re an owner or operator and want to find out more about that very technology book a demo with us!

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