Re-Imagining Urban Spaces: PARK(ing) Day 2009
Posted in Movements by Kate Archdeacon on September 23rd, 2009
On September 18, in cities around the world, artists, activists and citizens temporarily transformed metered parking spaces into public parks and other social spaces, as part of an annual event called PARK(ing) Day.
Originally invented in 2005 by Rebar, a San Francisco art and design studio, PARK(ing) Day challenges people to rethink the way streets are used and reinforces the need for broad-based changes to urban infrastructure.
“In urban centers around the world, inexpensive curbside parking results in increased traffic, wasted fuel and more pollution,” says Rebar’s Matthew Passmore. “The strategies that generated these conditions are not sustainable, nor do they promote a healthy, vibrant urban human habitat.
PARK(ing) Day is about re-imagining the possibilities of the metropolitan landscape.”
Over the four years of PARK(ing) Day, participants have broadened the scope of installations to fulfill a range of unmet social needs. “From public parks to free health clinics, from art galleries to demonstration gardens, participants have claimed the metered parking space as a rich new territory for creative experimentation, activism, socializing and play,” says Blaine Merker of Rebar.
In San Francisco, Rebar deployed its “PARKcycle” – a pedal-powered mobile park, capable of delivering public green space where and when it is needed. “If you live or work in San Francisco, keep your eyes open for a twenty-two foot long park pedaling through the streets,” says Rebar’s Teresa Aguilera.
PARK(ing) Day is a grassroots, “open-source” invention built by independent groups around the globe who adapt the project to champion creative, social or political causes that are relevant to their local urban conditions. Rebar has exhibited PARK(ing) Day at venues worldwide, including at the 2008 Venice Architecture Biennale, ISEA 2009 Dublin, the Canadian Center for Architecture, the American Institute of Architects and the Van Alen Institute in New York.