Today was Adelaide PARK(ing) day, where groups take over a city centre parking space and turn it into something else for a few hours.
According to the website, it started in San Francisco in 2005 and has since gone global with around 100 cities participating.
It is based on the idea that a parking space is just rented space – so if it can be occupied by a car, then why not something else? So for a few hours either side of today’s lunch hour, around a dozen city centre parking spaces were turned into art installations, outdoor design studios and miniature market gardens (including live chickens in one instance!).
I managed to see all but one of them, which either wasn’t there or I blinked and missed it among the usual hustle-bustle of Gouger St.
Quoting the website, PARK(ing) Day is all about:
* Calling attention to the importance of urban public spaces
* Rethinking the way we use our streets
* Creating diverse conversations about design and how we make sustainable cities
So how well did the parks achieve these objectives? Well based on my experiences, the most successful ones had at least two of three following ingredients:
- Good Location: some sites were just better positioned than others. I had a map and systematically looked out for all of the parks, but I would have been in the minority. Most people would have stumbled across them on their lunch break. So those which were on reasonably busy thoroughfares (but not so busy that they were lost in amongst all the other goings on) seem to have the best conversations and interactions with passers by.
- Something to do: those who had a way for the public to get involved somehow, for instance Hosking Design’s large cut-out figures which doubled as comment walls for people’s ideas about sustainability. (Although I think this might have worked better if it the topics for comments were bit more specific and focused – I probably wasn’t the only one who was at a loss for words when a pen was shoved in my hand). JPE’s artwork where people could map the paths they’d taken that day in lengths of string was another creative idea and primed thinking about the journeys we make.
- Passionate people: parks who were staffed by energetic teams who seemed to genuinely enjoy engaging with the public, explaining what it was about, and getting passersby involved.
To get a flavour of the different parks, there is a Flickr stream on the PARKing day homepage.
(PS. I give the “sense of humour” prize to design company Enoki. Their park, entitled ‘All my friends are dead’, comprised a sole dinosaur skeleton made from large orange profile-cut pieces. There may have been a more profound story behind this installation, but unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to look too closely as there was a huge crowd of school kids lining up to get into the cinema right next to them. Wonder what they made of it?)