Published: 20th May 2013

For placemakers, economics should be central. For me, placemaking which solely focusses on design and forgets the economics is not actually placemaking – it’s just decoration! Three weeks ago, in Detroit, I attended the inaugural US Placemaking Leadership conference. This was an apt background to thinking about how economics is central to placemaking. Detroit is famed as an exporter of two components of human ingenuity: automobiles and Motown music. However, Detroit has been in a long and deep decline. Detroit tells us that economics underpins place, and economies are far from permanent. Placemaking cannot ignore the fragility of these underpinnings. In their stunning photography book The Ruins of Detroit, Yves Marchand and Romain Meffre cast a camera onto the ruined buildings and places in Detroit, highlighting the fragility and vulnerability of the economy which built them. They say: ‘The state of ruin is essentially a temporary situation that happens at some … (To read the full article, subscribe below)