Parklets are a quick and cheap way to improve urban spaces. They provide new places to sit and relax and can add more greenery to the concrete jungle.
Parklets started in 2005 in San Francisco. An urban design group called Rebar converted two car parking bays into the first parklet. They laid down some turf, placed a tree and chair on it and created a mini-oasis in the concrete jungle for 2 days; which was the maximum allowable length of time of the parking meter (yes, they had to pay normal car parking fees – effectively renting the car parking spaces). The idea spread rapidly online and became known as ‘Park(ing) Day’. It is now an annual international event.
The first parklet in San Francisco in 2005
Parklets can be as simple or as complicated as your budget allows. Here is an example of a parklet made by local residents and businesses in Ardross, Perth. It was designed, constructed and installed entirely by locals. The local government chipped in the funds, but didn’t do anything else to make this happen.
First step was to define the space. They did this using green paint. As you can see, it is not a space people would normally like to hang around in.
Next job was to assemble the parklet. These guys had worked for weeks to create their own custom-designed chairs and tables. It was pretty easy to assemble on-site as the hard work was done off-site.
Last step was a well deserved morning tea after all the hard work.
As you can see in the background, it took around 5 minutes for people to start using the new seats.
These guys didn’t start with an amazing space. But through some hard work they created a better place for people and community. They have some other fantastic ideas to improve this area such as wall murals, planters, green walls and bike racks. Relatively small, simple changes are the best way to create better places.
“It is difficult to design a space that will not attract people. What is remarkable is how often this has been accomplished.”
William H. Whyte