Placemaking: How technology can help foster vibrant communities

Placemaking has transformed from a mere buzzword to an indispensable strategy for creating thriving and sustainable communities. In a dynamic landscape where supply and demand continually shape the real estate sector, it’s more than constructing buildings; it’s about creating environments that foster a sense of belonging, identity, and community. “We shape buildings”, Winston Churchill once argued, “and then, they shape us”.

The Significance of Placemaking

All too often placemaking is viewed as a luxury, something nice but not essential to a development’s success. Recent praise from Housing Secretary Michael Gove regarding a new checklist that rates the placemaking quality of developments underlines the growing importance of this concept. The reality is, placemaking can generate a big return on investment. 


A well-designed, community-focused development makes it more likely that potential residents will not only choose a development over others but also remain living there. According to a survey conducted by the National Multifamily Housing Council, communities with strong placemaking initiatives saw a 7% increase in resident retention rates. 


Furthermore, developments with thriving communal spaces, and a strong sense of identity tend to increase in value more rapidly than those lacking these elements. As property values increase, both investors and residents can benefit. The Urban Land Institute reported that residential properties located within walking distance of well-designed public spaces and amenities can command up to 20% higher rental and sales prices. 

How Resident Portals Facilitate Placemaking

In the digital age, technology has emerged as a powerful tool to facilitate placemaking. Here’s how resident portals play a pivotal role in creating vibrant communities. 

Fostering Community Connection

Placemaking often involves community events and gatherings. Resident portals can help in organising and promoting these events, making it easier for residents to participate. Developments that have implemented resident engagement portals have reported a 20% increase in resident participation in community events and initiatives.


Resident portals also provide residents with a central place to connect with their neighbours, share experiences, and organise events or activities. This digital community-building enhances the sense of belonging, encouraging residents to become active participants in shaping their communities. 


What’s more, latest ONS data has revealed that those aged between 16-29 are over twice as likely to report feeling lonely often or always than those over 70.  Having solutions like Spike Living in place allows residents to easily connect and find others in their local community that share similar interests and hobbies. 


Resident portals also serve as a virtual town square, allowing residents to voice their opinions and preferences regarding local initiatives. This can make communication between residents, property management, and local authorities much more transparent, helping to build trust and ensuring that residents are informed about ongoing placemaking projects. 

Simplifying Communication

Effective communication is crucial in maintaining a thriving community. Resident portals make it easier for residents to report issues, request maintenance, and receive updates on community news, as well as be kept informed about safety policies and important information, creating a more responsive living experience.


Research by Zego found that developments that use resident engagement portals experience a 30% reduction in response times for maintenance requests, leading to higher resident satisfaction. 


Spike Living acts as a central communication hub, boasting a multitude of ways to enhance communication in developments, whether it’s messaging between staff and residents, or serving as an exclusive and safe form of social media, with residents getting to know their neighbours through a mobile app. 

Access to Amenities and Services

Through resident portals, residents can access information about local amenities and services. This information empowers residents to explore and make the most of their community. Developments that have resident portals in place have reported a 25% increase in amenity utilisation, leading to higher resident satisfaction.
Spike Living serves as a gateway to a range of amenities and services within the community. Residents can easily book facilities, find local businesses, and access exclusive offers, all from the palm of their hands, enhancing their overall living experience. 

Achieve ESG and Sustainability Goals

Sustainability is a key aspect of modern placemaking. Recent research into what modern renters and homeowners want from their living environment found that 80% of respondents said it was important that their home has sustainability credentials when considering a new place to live.


Resident portals like Spike Living can connect residents with other like-minded neighbours via various online clubs and forums. Creating a place where residents can share their own useful tips, and organise their own community events such as neighbourhood clean-ups or volunteer days, helps to instil a sense of togetherness and collective focus.  


Research by Spike, ASK4 and Utopi found that investing in developing a community not only enhances the resident experience – it can also lead to better outcomes. Residents are more likely to behave in a way that benefits the collective good if they feel an attachment to the people, place, and community in which they live, something that resident portals can help with.


Placemaking is a dynamic process that goes beyond traditional urban planning. It involves the active participation of residents, a commitment to cultural identity, and a focus on creating safe, sustainable, and inviting spaces. Resident portals such as Spike Living serve as a valuable tool in this process, enabling community engagement, transparency, and information sharing. As the real estate industry continues to evolve, those who prioritise placemaking and invest in their communities will undoubtedly come out ahead. 

Case Study

Bartra partners with Spike to drive tenant engagement and enhance ESG credentials across award-winning Riverwalk Innovation Hub

Riverwalk is a major office development situated at the heart of Citywest Business Campus, an award-winning business park, 15km southwest of Dublin city centre, and linked by rail via the LUAS. Flanked by distinctive office buildings and surrounded by a beautifully landscaped environment, with a wide range of amenities and services, Riverwalk tenants include Adobe, Sony, Pfizer, Unilever, Shire, and Sanofi Aventis.


Riverwalk Innovation Hub

An essential part of Riverwalk’s appeal is the landscape where people can meet, relax, and work in a stress-free natural setting. Bartra, who jointly acquired the Citywest Business Park with Henley Investment Management in 2019, wanted an effective and modern way to communicate and engage with all tenants and staff across the development.


Bartra worked with Spike, the leading property management and tenant engagement software provider, to create The Riverwalk Workplace app, a white-labelled version of its Spike Workplace portal. The app allows onsite staff to share news and updates about the development via push notifications, while tenants can easily access key information such as FAQs, onsite contacts, as well as view what services and events are available.


Tenants can also use the app to submit any queries they have to JLL Ireland, the managing agent, as well as participate in online social clubs and forums, allowing tenants to get to know one another and encourage tenant-led events to take place, such as 5-aside football leagues and lunchtime walking clubs. 


Barry Heeney, Asset Manager at Bartra comments:The Riverwalk Workplace app is easy to navigate and allows tenants to very quickly see what’s happening across the development, where to find the nearest restaurant, when the next Luas will be or request services like car valeting on site. Our tenants are happy with the app and all the information we can add, plus we can update them with a simple notification when we want to share any news.” 

Bartra partners with Spike to create the Riverwalk App

Since the roll out in July 2022, The Riverwalk Workplace app has quickly become an integral part of the Riverwalk experience, with over 400 tenants now using the portal. 


Livia Vilares, Community Manager at Riverwalk, JLL Ireland comments:The Riverwalk Workplace app has played a pivotal role in encouraging tenants back into the office and onto the campus. Tenants can see all the exciting activities that are taking place across the development, such as Taco Thursday and regular fitness classes, showcasing the benefits of working at Riverwalk.

“It’s also allowed me to build a rapport with the tenants and has encouraged regular feedback on what they are enjoying the most and what they would like to see added to the campus.” 


A tenant at Riverwalk comments: “The Riverwalk app is a great tool to have on hand to view the services, social and fun events, and clubs and forums to name a few of the activities organised on site. In addition, should I wish to check on the charge my car, check on local public transport links, book a car valet or find what options are close by for lunch, all these features and information are available within the Riverwalk app.”