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Placemaking, livability and public spaces. Achieving sustainability through happy places


Livability of places is set by many factors which are in turn influenced by a variety of elements - both tangible and intangible - concerning the area in question and its surroundings. One of these factors is constituted by urban happiness, which, together with the term sustainability meant in its wide meaning, constitutes a key concept in placemaking. In this respect, a new attention to urban happiness has been given but often in terms of theoretical sense or from an observational point of view. Aim of this study is to present the Happy place mapping, a method of analysis specifically devoted to the identification of factors that influence the perception of happiness from the urban point of view. To illustrate the method, the emblematic HafenCity case study carried out in Hamburg is showed. A long process of urban regeneration is interesting this area and the new public spaces are changing the identity of the city, making it more livable and agreeable both for locals and visitors. The discussion on questions related to methods that concern intangible aspects and on Happy place mapping conclude the paper.

Pages:63 to 76
Section: Society
How to Cite
Sepe, M. (2017) “Placemaking, livability and public spaces. Achieving sustainability through happy places”, The Journal of Public Space, 2(4), pp. 63-76. doi: 10.5204/jps.v2i4.141.


Total Abstract Views: 382  Total PDF Downloads: 390

Author Biography

IRISS-CNR, University of Naples Federico II
Italy Italy
Marichela Sepe received the Laurea degree in Architecture and the Specialization School degree in Urban Design from the University of Naples in 1991 and 1996, respectively.  She is a journalist since 1993.
Since 1995 she is with the Italian National Research Council in Naples (, where since 2001 she is a researcher. Since 2009 she is with the IRISS - Institute for Research in Innovation and Services for Development of Naples of the Italian National Research Council ( Since 2003, she is also with the Department of Architecture of the University of Naples ( She is Contract Professor for the School of Architecture of the University of Naples.
In 2000 she was visiting scholar at the Laboratorie Jardins, Paysages, Territories of the Ecole d'Architecture Paris La Villette and in 2004 at the Department of Urban Studies and Planning of MIT, Cambridge. In 2013 she has been visiting Professor at the Peking University and held lectures in the Peking, Wuhan and Xi'an Universities.
Her research interests include: urban landscape analysis and planning; urban design; territorial and environmental planning; post-seismic reconstruction; migration topics; waterfront urban regeneration. On these topics, she has published several national and international journal articles, conference papers, books and book chapters.
She is Vice President of INU, Urban Planning Italian National Institute, Campania chapter - involved as a Director in the 2013 INU Regional Urban Planning Exhibition - and member of Urban Design Group, DO.CO.MO.MO and EURA.
In 2014-2016 she won: the Ardito-Desio award for the paper presented at Ipsapa 2014 and 2016 Conference; the Urban Planning Literature Award of the Italian National Urban Planning Institute (INU) with the monagraphy "Planning and Place in the City" (Routledge) and with an article for the book “Una politica per le città italiane" (Inu Edizioni).


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