18 Jul 2023

In Singapore, a shift in conventional placemaking is underway. More local businesses, workers, and residents are partnering government agencies to shape and manage public spaces. These communities are taking greater ownership of initiatives to create lively streets and vibrant districts.

At Raffles Place, local stakeholders are leveraging Cistri’s expertise in data-driven design to shape and create cost-effective solutions that are breathing new life into the precinct.

One year on, valuable insights are informing tailored placemaking initiatives in the precinct, demonstrating the value of an evidence-based design approach.

With its focus on genuine community engagement and associated cultural and economic benefits, placemaking is gaining momentum in Singapore. This is further strengthened by an increasing interest in the value of place following strict social distancing rules during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Increasingly, government, businesses and residents are working together to create, shape and sustain public spaces in their precincts. Whether by physically improving an area or activating spaces with events and programmes, collaborative placemaking efforts have become a powerful tool for transforming benign city landscapes into thriving precincts that foster a stronger sense of connection and community. 

The bustling heart of Singapore’s Central Business District (CBD), Raffles Place is one of nine Singapore precincts engaging in collaborative placemaking, participating in a pilot Business Improvement District (BID) programme by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA). 

Under the BID initiative, stakeholders within participating precincts can take charge to improve their area with support from the Government for placemaking initiatives.

Engaging our help at Cistri to strategically shape placemaking initiatives, Raffles Place Alliance aimed to ensure the precinct not only retained its mantle as the premier commercial precinct but would be transformed into the Central ‘Buzz’ District. 

A reinvigorated Raffles Place would see talent converging around opportunity, creativity and entrepreneurship to work, meet, play and chill. 

To inform our strategic approach, we gathered fundamental data on Raffles Place: stakeholder needs, existing assets and initiatives, partnership opportunities and movement patterns. This information enabled us to tailor creative solutions for building the Raffles Place identity and community and drive greater engagement in the precinct.

Our process:


When it comes to placemaking, bigger is not always better. Our plan with Raffles Place Alliance was to start small then build momentum through several smaller activations, rather than focusing on one big event.

Collectively, these events would help us create a Central Buzz District. Led by our partner LOPELAB, we tested a variety of fun and engaging activations including:


The chairs were the heart and soul, transforming Raffles Place Park into an area of rest, relaxation and socialising for both the local community and beyond.

Rahul Mittal View Profile

By measuring qualitative and quantitative data collected from Raffles Place activations, we were able to better understand the behaviours, preferences and needs of the community. The data sets we tracked and analysed included:

  • Participant satisfaction and preferences through an online survey
  • Visitation uplift, visitor profile and catchment through mobile phone data
  • Chair utilisation

This then enabled us to calibrate future placemaking efforts and ensure that they will be aligned with local needs. 

Our biggest takeaway at Raffles Place was that the simplest things can have the biggest impact.

The addition of chairs was a great success, used by people day and night; they were also a key asset for events. The Eco and Light installations were also popular, creating social moments and a ‘wow’ effect.

Passive programs like busking performances, markets and movie nights also proved to be more effective than workshops and active programs. 

Overall, the measurement data provided valuable baseline information and is being used to shape tailored placemaking efforts going forward. 

During key months of activations:

  • Compared to 2019, there was relatively higher and consistent visitation and a greater draw of visitors from beyond Raffles Place
  • There was significant incremental weekend traffic to the Raffles Place precinct
  • There was good participation not only by Raffles Place workers but also non-work visitors. 
  • There were over 2,500 attendees estimated across 2 events – Unwind @ Raffles Place and Release @ Raffles Place
  • Unwind @ Raffles Place achieved greater scale, while Release @ Raffles Place  achieved a higher level of engagement.

(Below images credit: LopeLab, Raffles Place Alliance, Cistri)

While passion and energy driving collaborative placemaking is commendable, it is essential to go beyond the initial excitement and measure the impact of initiatives. 

Measuring impact provides valuable insights into the effectiveness and long-term sustainability of placemaking efforts. It allows stakeholders to understand what is working and what can be improved, ensuring continued success in shaping lively streets and sustaining vibrant city districts.

As experts in turning spaces into places for communities to enjoy and come together, our team at Cistri remains proudly at the forefront of data-driven placemaking. We employ rigorous methodologies to evaluate the economic, social, and environmental outcomes of placemaking initiatives and offer valuable insights that inform decision-making and help shape future strategies. 

One year on from commencing activations at Raffles Place, we continue to support the precinct by measuring the success of placemaking initiatives and making recommendations that will help the precinct achieve its vision of being the Central Buzz District. 

Want to leverage our expertise? Reach out to our team to discuss how to activate and measure the performance of your development or precinct.

Rahul Mittal View Profile
Melissa Luki View Profile
Carmen Gum View Profile
Ee Iyn Wong View Profile