Digital Placemaking for Porth Teigr, Cardiff Bay


Digital Placemaking


Porth Teigr was part of the world’s busiest port in the nineteenth century, Cardiff Docks. Today, driven by sustainable developers, igloo, the area is undergoing significant regeneration. Its masterplan envisions a vibrant and environmentally sustainable mixed-use neighbourhood, including 1,000 new homes, 1.2 million square feet of commercial space and exciting new community facilities.

In order to identify how digital technologies can positively impact upon the success and sustainability of Porth Teigr, now and in the future, Calvium was commissioned through the Porth Teigr Community Fund to undertake an in-depth six-month research project. Entitled ‘Ideascape: Digital Placemaking for Porth Teigr’ the project identified ways in which digital placemaking can contribute to the social, cultural and economic prosperity of Porth Teigr; thereby enhancing the quality of life of its stakeholder communities.

We published and shared our methods and the research findings in the Ideascape report, which is available to download here.

Sustainable Developers, igloo

Working closely with igloo, throughout the project we sought to engage and collaborate with a range of stakeholder communities to ensure that Ideascape was firmly grounded in the local area. As such, community engagement and collaboration were central to the research and its activities, which included ideation workshops with local stakeholders and an interactive public showcase event.

We don’t want our projects to be bound by a developer's red line. We want to have a wider, lasting and positive effect on the community - whether it be residents, businesses or visitors to our developments. We seek to observe and genuinely listen to what people have to say, and prefer a community rather than the ‘false’ community consultation process that people seem forced to do. Therefore, I was immediately attracted by Calvium’s approach.

Mark Hallett, igloo

In order to ensure that the research was as robust and meaningful as possible, at the start of the project we concentrated on building up our understanding of the socio-economic and cultural landscape of Porth Teigr. We did this by speaking with a range of key community stakeholders, including the local council, businesses and residents. In particular, we worked with Cardiff-based creative arts organisation Studio Response, who introduced us to their network of artists and designers.

We were thrilled to work with Calvium to ensure that the Ideascape project involved a cross section of stakeholders. Having worked in Cardiff for many years, we were perfectly placed to provide the local knowledge and links needed for the project.

Emma Price, Studio Response

Ideation workshop with local stakeholders

At a co-creation workshop held in Porth Teigr, we worked with a range of stakeholders, including key arts providers, businesses and local government organisations, to develop a series of interactive project ideas that demonstrated how digital technologies might enhance people’s experiences of being in Porth Teigr.


Image shows a group of people sat at different tables in smaller groups, taking part in a creative ideation workshop
Calvium facilitated workshops with groups of stakeholders on site at Porth Teigr.

Using diverse creative methods, and drawing upon their local knowledge of the area, stakeholders were invited to imagine novel ways in which digital technologies could be harnessed, using the seven core themes of the Porth Teigr Community Fund as their guide.  The themes include:

  1. Theme: Community Cohesion
    Provocation: ‘A way of visualising history in place’
  2. Theme: Developing the local economy
    Provocation: ‘A way of advertising’
  3. Theme: Pride in the local community
    Provocation: ‘A way of getting archival materials of/from the area’
  4. Theme: Health, Happiness and Wellbeing
    Provocation: ‘A way of creating art in a hybrid space’
  5. Theme: Porth Teigr cultural heritage and identity
    Provocation: ‘A way of understanding differences.’

Using these themes and ‘A way of…’ provocations, our stakeholder participants collaborated to design and present their ideas to the group.

yellow Post-it notes are linked together on a table using string, showing how ideas tie into each other
During the sessions we discussed key ideas and themes around people, place and tech

Following the workshop, Calvium collated the ideas generated and insights from the discussions in order to further develop a set of ‘digital placemaking’ projects that would be presented at an interactive public engagement showcase. Each of the projects addressed at least one of the core themes and was intended to stimulate the imaginations of showcase attendees. As well as the original projects that came from the workshop, Calvium also presented existing projects that resonated with our research, e.g. The Architecture Centre’s ‘Urban Rooms’ initiative.

IDEASCAPE - A new method of community consultation

The Ideascape showcase was an open, friendly and accessible event that provoked attendees to imagine how location-specific digital products, services and experiences could provide new ways for people to experience the public spaces of Porth Teigr.

The majority of projects were interactive prototypes that ranged from augmented reality binoculars and a booking service for public space to a geolocated audio tour telling the history of the on-site lock keepers cottage. A few projects were presented as posters or as topics for discussion.


A mixture of illustrations of Porth Teigr in turquoise and purple, are compiled with images of the event at Porth Teigr

Held in a public space in Porth Teigr, the open event was designed to attract local residents, workers and visitors to engage with the exhibited projects – each one acting as a probe to imagine how the experience of being in Porth Teigr could be improved through digital technologies. Using a range of methods, Calvium captured feedback from the attendees and used this information as the basis of the Ideascape research report.  

It’s established that community consultation and public engagement is essential and can play a vital role in the success of development and regeneration projects. However, traditional methods of community consultation, such as public hearings or online forms, are often criticised for not engaging a representative cross section of the general public and for providing information in ways that are unclear or opaque. Furthermore, when presenting new ways of experiencing ‘the future’ it can be hard for people to understand conceptually what is being presented when using traditional methods.

The Ideascape interactive showcase used visual representations and interactive prototypes on location to demonstrate project ideas to a broad range of communities. This proved to be an effective and popular method to support people to think creatively and critically about digital placemaking.

In addition, the very nature of the Ideascape event was open and accessible, inviting people to engage in an informal and friendly manner that encouraged active engagement and reflection.

The varied ways in which feedback was gathered enabled participants to communicate in ways that they favoured. Rather than being faced with a single method of feedback, the Ideascape participants were able to choose from a variety of methods. It  ensured that the data was triangulated and that the findings were robust.

This original method of community consultation pioneered by Calvium is something that could be easily replicated according to other specific redevelopment sites. By yielding more accurate, representative data from residents, workers and visitors of an area-  we can ensure the places that are built work for the community. It’s our hope that other developers will be inspired to employ a similar process in order to do so.

A white man with brown hair wearing big headphones holds his phone as he listens to the audio guide on the Porth Teigr app. Next to this image are 3 screens from the trail app, with purple background and white text
3 screens from the Porth Teigr Trail app


Sharing our findings

Ideascape  was a research project. Core to the project was a desire to share the findings so as to benefit the wider built environment community working in the regeneration and development spaces. As such, Calvium wrote a research report which can be downloaded for free via our website.

The findings from the Ideascape research revealed that digital placemaking has an important part to play in successful urban regeneration. The report suggests that digital placemaking can enhance the social, cultural, environmental and economic prosperity of a location.

Key insights from the project include the following:

  • Digital placemaking encourages and relies upon community participation, where openness and inclusivity act as essential digital placemaking design principles. In doing so, the practice encourages communities to positively influence the evolution of target areas, helping to make it a place where people want to work, live and visit.
  • Digital placemaking enhances people’s experience of physical space.
  • Digital placemaking is beneficial to all stages of development and regeneration, and supports a smoother development process.
  • Digital placemaking is flexible and allows a range of digitally enabled content to be available over time, so that individual experiences of a physical location can change as the digital services, products and experiences available there evolve.
  • Digital placemaking affords a broad range of physical-digital synthesis – including smartphone apps, sensor-enabled physical objects and augmented reality – to ensure that new types of rich experience can be created and expected over time.

Digital placemaking will serve to influence and reshape how life is experienced in urban public spaces worldwide. Therefore, in order to meet the social, cultural, environmental and economic aims of future urban regeneration projects, it is vital that traditional urban planning and redevelopment practices embrace the possibilities that digital placemaking affords.

To see the full findings from our collaboration with Igloo, you can download your copy of the ideascape report via the button below.

Download the Research Report


If you would like to talk to us about how digital placemaking can enhance your redevelopment project please contact us at or 0117 226 2000

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