Annapolis was one of hundreds of cities in countries all over the world to participate in the annual PARK(ing) Day, an event in which landscapers and landscape architects reinvent urban parking spaces as temporary parks. At least five parks were created in the city, and more than one hundred along the mid-Atlantic on September 21.
According to Rebar, the design firmed that originated PARK(ing) Day, the annual event is a place “where artists, activists, and citizens independently (but simultaneously) turn metered parking spots into “PARK(ing)” spaces: temporary public parks and other spaces for people to enjoy. PARK(ing) Day is a non-commercial project, intended to promote creativity, civic engagement, critical thinking, unscripted social interactions, generosity and play.”
PARK(ing) Day originated in 2005 when San Francisco’s Rebar art and design studio paid for a two-hour metered parking space, created a temporary park, and dismantled it when the two hours expired, in essence “leasing” the parking space for a use other than parking a car. PARK(ing) Day has expanded globally, with companies, organizations and individuals all creating new forms of public space in urban areas.
At City Dock, Maryland Society of Landscape Architects built a miniature park highlighted by an inflatable red sphere that children climbed on and rolled around in. Bubbles and lights completed the transformation. Visitors were surprised by the park’s sudden appearance and many wished they could bring their children back.
E-Landscape Solutions and Richard Sweeney Landscape Architecture focused its parking space park as a rainwater harvesting display. The site featured seating that was used all day by customers at the café across the street. In fact, the café owner stated how wonderful it would be as a permanent fixture, a sort of extension of the café and other small businesses in the area.
Eden Contracting laid down real sod and placed park benches so passers-by could stop, relax, and talk about the possibilities of converting a small piece of concrete to a green space.
Rainwater capture barrels dominated Garden Girls Landscaping’s site in front of 49 West Coffeehouse. Several people stopped to eat lunch at the table Garden Girls installed. In front of Zachary’s Jewelers, Bignell Watkins Hasser Architects built a giant chessboard and encouraged people to play.
Further north, participation was high in New York’s five boroughs, but Virginia, South Carolina, and New Jersey missed the chance to reduce concrete curbing and street asphalt for a day.
While the idea is simple, the temporary parks really get people’s attention and engage them in dialogue about the role of parks in the urban fabric. Companies participate in PARK(ing) Day to illustrate the possibilities of bringing more green space to dense urban areas. The attention the parks garner also helps to highlight the firm or firms who designed the areas. The parks act as meeting sites, bicycle repair stations, urban farms—anything that the local community needs that will fit into the real estate of a parking space.
Image Credit: Solutions Twin Cities
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