Friday, January 11, 2013

Boundaries Blurred: PARK(ing) Day in Seattle

             Founded by the Rebar group, a San Francisco based design and art studio, PARK(ing) Day is " an annual worldwide event where artists, designers and citizens transform metered parking spots into temporary public parks.”1 The goals of PARK(ing) day are to bring awareness to the need for more open, public and green spaces in urban areas. Since the inaugural parking spot was transformed into a temporary park back in 2005, the event has become an international phenomenon, reaching cities (and parking stalls) across the globe. What makes this event particularly compelling to examine as an example of the idea of “City Sharing” is how not only the physical boundaries of the parking stall but also the social boundaries within an urban environment become blurred. As depicted in the photo slideshow, urban dwellers from a variety of unique demographics and socio-economic backgrounds are able to come together and cohabit a single parking stall space, transforming it into a fun, active and unique shared city space.            

          The creativity of designers and community activists who reimagine and work to temporarily transform these parking stalls is astounding. Providing different experiences through the physical design and inclusion of seating and activities, these seemingly mundane parking stalls become active places for social interaction and engagement. Many PARK(ing) day stall designs include the use of vegetation and landscape elements, creating the visual appeal and ambience of a community park or garden, which can be interpreted as an example of Rutherford Platt’s discussion of the “Garden City” movement in the early 1900s-- which targeted the design for open spaces in town areas for community parks and gardens which would be nostalgic of previous colonial gathering periods” (6:1994)2.            

          Seattle’s participation in PARK(ing) Day illustrates the creativity and power of ordinary citizens to transform and share city spaces for the benefit of all.

2) Platt, Rutherford H. 1994. From Commons to Commons: Evolving Concepts of Open Space in North American Cities. 

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