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This paper is concerned with the evolution of place-shaping over the past decade or so and its potential future direction, specifically relating to a UK context but with varying aspects of resonance internationally. The methodological approach and empirical originality is derived from practitioner encounters synthesised with theory. Three ‘waves’ of place-shaping are discernable: renaissance, recession mitigation and recovery. Conceptualising and examining the changing face of place-shaping practice, some broad place quality trends are identified. Asserting that renaissance interventions were heavily skewed towards enhancing the material aspects of city spaces it is suggested that recessions provide a useful interject to reflect on past practice, rethink future policies and sharpen skills. It is within such a climate that innovatory practice can flourish as (public, private and community) actors are challenged to seek alternative ways of working. Questioning the wisdom of cuts in quality, the paper calls for new ways of capturing place quality.
Key words: place-shaping, regeneration, urban renaissance, place quality, economic recovery.