Parking Day, started by art and design firm Rebar in 2005, encourages the transformation of on-street car parks into micro inner-city green spaces for use by the public. What’s the big idea? If you pay for a park, you should be able to use that space for anything you like and not just be limited to storing your automobile there for the time allocated. What started out as an exploration of downtown San Francisco’s potential for temporary green space has turned into a yearly event held all over the world in mid September. Last year Adelaide contributed 12 parks to this worldwide phenomenon. In 2011, with increased support from Adelaide City Council, this number tripled with the registration of 37 parkers. This is the most parkers in any city in Australia, and a diverse range of parks were created across the city.
The park created by TCL staff in Adelaide was born of a simple idea – what is Parking Day about, fundamentally? After some debate, the answer was: the reclamation of a car space for nature and people. The elements of parks – car parks and green parks – became the focus of the design. What is essential in a park? For a car park this is obvious – a car or at the very least a space that a car can go. But in a green park there are a range of elements, a palette of different parts that fit together to create a park. At first a game of chess was suggested – city elements vs. green space elements. Then this idea was simplified – a game of checkers where cars are battling for their space against trees. Cars vs. Trees Checkers. This idea became the park below. The public were encouraged to get involved in Parking Day by pitting cars against trees in a battle for the space. In the end, the trees won the day.
Other parks around Adelaide were varied and diverse in their aesthetic, message and ideas. Various groups from universities to businesses to community organisations and just groups of friends created parks that reflected their idea of how car parking spaces might be better utilised.
The Adelaide Review and the Planning Institute of Australia asked the question – what is design? and posted resposes as they came in. The responses were varied – Design is… everything, Design is…yummy…(!)
Mulloway Studio demonstrated the negative (or positive?) space left by not having a car parked for the day. It was interesting to mark out the park in the TCL studio and see exactly how much space we dedicate to cars in our cities – this park drove that point home by making the three-dimensional space taken up by a car visible.
The Adelaide City Council played with the idea of a portable park by transforming a trailer. This is an interesting idea in itself – what if there were portable parks – like portable coffee shops and portable food trucks – that roam the city, park for 3P and then move on? Neighbourhoods could be revitalised for three hours, then return to normal. Perhaps this would prompt the residents/workers/shoppers to think about what could be there instead, and how this space could be used.
This park was set up as a place to relax in the city. A simple concept but a valuable message about public space. Sometimes the space doesn’t have to be overly designed or even intentionally created, but relaxation and recreation should be designed into every city.
The winners of the President’s Choice Award went to Social Epi at UniSA for their park “Red Carpet”. This park used mannequins and scrap materials to create five different figures – five types of pedestrian. On their clothes were pinned quotes on the merits of walking, and the merits of public open spaces that encourage walking.
It’s interesting to see the shift from the idea of the original park – to create a usable public space by transforming a car park into a ‘green’ park – into such a academic take on an anti-car message. It will be interesting to see what is on display next year and in the years to come…