SXSW Eco highlights placemaking through Place by Design
South by Southwest, the behemoth music, film and interactive event that consumes Austin each March, is in itself a giant exercise in tactical urbanism. The influx of people stretches downtown Austin to its limits and transforms every underutilized space into something else: parking lots become music venues, lounges, eateries and almost anything else imaginable.
It’s not wholly surprising, then, that tactical urbanism and creative placemaking are gaining prominence as topics at South by Southwest Eco, a three day conference and festival that celebrates innovations in sustainability each October (2013 will be its third year). The event that most promotes these initiatives is Place by Design, a public space design competition that launched in May and is a new addition to the SXSW Eco roster. “We set out to showcase a variety of projects that encourage people to engage with public space,” says Julie Yost, the Place by Design Coordinator. “It’s not that all of these projects are fundamentally environmental in nature, but more that by making cities more livable they will encourage people to take care of the places that matter to them. The entries pose solutions to challenges that many cities face: underutilized space, uninspired places and areas that don’t encourage activity.”
Place by Design received 79 entries in a range of categories and stages of development. There are small-scale urban interventions, mobile apps, architecture and processes that encourage communities to push public space to its full potential. Fifteen finalists have been chosen by a panel of jurors to exhibit their work at SXSW Eco (October 7-9 | Austin, TX) and three winners will be honored during the SXSW Eco Awards Ceremony.