Modern cities have a tendency to revolve around automobiles instead of people. Parking lots and street parking litter urban areas, effectively minimizing the available space for pedestrians and outdoor social gatherings. In 2005, this design flaw was challenged by Rebar, a design collective who paid a street parking metre for two hours and used the space to set up an unexpected art installation. The installation used artificial turf, trees, and benches to create a miniature park. This miniature park created a welcoming environment for pedestrians to stop by and relax. The short-lived event sparked massive interest, resulting in the creation of PARK(ing) Day which occurs annually every third Friday of September. PARK(ing) Day encourages people to make their own parking lot installations in an effort to repurpose urban spaces. While this event initially emerged in San Francisco, California, it is now practiced globally.
While many of the parking lot installations emulate the original by providing basics such as greenery and seating, activities that encourage public participation have also been incorporated into a fair number of PARK(ing) spaces. For example, installations of the past have included games such as croquet, checkers, and mini golf; public yoga classes; temporary classrooms; free food and drinks; play spaces for children and art installations.
PARK(ing) Day allows citizens to increase their involvement in urban design. The ability to participate in the creation and enjoyment of these parking stalls demonstrates how urban spaces can be transformed. Instead of simply discussing design strategies, the PARK(ing) stalls are a concrete example of how urban infrastructure can be altered to better suit the community. Consider creating your own parking space installation with a group of friends or local organization. Ask yourself how you can contribute to your city and put your creativity to use!
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