public artwork at property developers
Artworks commissioned for Cedar Woods and Qube Property. Left to Right: Grace Apartments, Springs Apartments, Williams Landing. Images: Supplied.
  • Art gives a 'true sense of place'
  • Has wider potential to make places more 'livable'
  • While difficult to measure, studies are underway to create more rigorous frameworks

“Without people and organisations committing to arts and culture, our communities wouldn’t have the heart and soul they do,” Cedar Woods managing director, Nathan Blackburne, told The Property Tribune.

As new developments go up in the outer suburbs, and inner-city houses transform into medium and high density, how do you create or maintain the character and feel of an area? And how do you create a sense of place and community?


How do you measure it?

The Property Tribune spoke with experts in creative placemaking earlier this year about how to measure the impact of creative ventures in the public sphere.

For a time, it wasn’t particularly straightforward: “In one room you wouldn’t find 10 people who could tell you the same thing about placemaking”, Dr Michael Cohen told The Property Tribune.

Creative placemaking is a subset of the broader concept of placemaking. Dr Cathy Smith said the four types commonly used today include: creative, tactical, strategic, and standard.

“You can’t just build a place… You have to activate it with the social infrastructure. There’s both a physical environment, and whether people feel welcome there.”

Dr Justine Lloyd, Macquarie University

For more on the research see here.

An intangible value to tangible

While art may seem unnecessary in some eyes, there is in fact immense value behind the scenes.

In July this year, the South Australian government announced it will be making some $147 million available through the ‘Open Spaces and Places for People’ grant programme.

While the grant isn’t solely for public art, the programme will have wider benefits:

“It is important we continue to secure our status as Australia’s most liveable city, and these funds will ensure neighbourhoods have beautiful public spaces for South Australians to enjoy,”

Vickie Chapman, Minister for Planning and Local Government

When we asked Mr Blackburne about the return on investment for art, he said “While there are no hard numbers, we know there is power in art.”

“Where we find value is through creating connection points for the community, creating an identity, and reflecting on historical or local aspects of the site, which would probably be otherwise forgotten.”

How have communities responded?

Developers have been increasingly incorporating art into developments, be it apartment blocks or new estates.

“We have identified this need within our communities and regularly engage with local artists to further develop an area in an authentic way,” said Mr Blackburne.

airplane wing in ground artwork
Artwork at Williams Landing in Victoria. Image: Supplied.

“The response across the board has been extremely positive. Our residents feel a strong connection to the pieces of art we have commissioned for our communities, Mr Blackburne told The Property Tribune.

“The pieces often have ties to the heritage of the site, whether that be depictions of native flora and fauna, or previous uses for the site. This allows our residents to form a deeper sense of place with their home.”

artwork grace apartments digital screen
Artwork at Grace Apartments. Image: Supplied.

Qube Properties echoed the message:

“The art elements incorporated in each development are not only a striking addition visually but create a sense of community in the space by referencing the history of the site and ideally stimulating dialogue between residents new and old,” Qube managing director Mark Hector told The Property Tribune.

public artwork on outside of perth building western australia
Artwork at Springs Apartments. Image: Supplied.

“It is also an opportunity for us to build on the project brand in a captivating way that will provide enjoyment for years to come.”

That sense of home is arguably amplified by the art:

“Art directly impacts the way we feel and potentially brings energy and life to a public space. It helps our residents relate to their home and local area on a more profound level, thus giving them a true sense of place,” said Mr Hector.

Artwork on various Qube Property developments. Image: Supplied.

From the artists

Creating a work that can be enjoyed by everyone, young and old, is something artists have to consider, of course varying depending on what the target market is for a particular development or apartment.

“In order to create a visually engaging piece for range of audiences, I used a combination of vintage-inspired imagery with new drawing technologies.

“I chose to work with detailed, representational figurative elements combined with more abstracted florals, using the portrait as a center point, with a calm, peaceful gaze.”

Alex Beckinsale, Adelaide Central School of Art

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