SAN FRANCISCO, Sept. 15, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In cities around the globe tomorrow, artists, activists and citizens will transform metered parking spaces into temporary public parks and other social spaces, as part of an annual event called "PARK(ing) Day."
Invented in 2005 by Rebar, a San Francisco-based art and design studio, PARK(ing) Day invites people to rethink the way streets are used and promotes discussion around the need for broad- based changes to urban infrastructure. "Urban inhabitants worldwide recognize the need for new approaches to making cities," says Rebar principal Matthew Passmore. " The planning strategies that have led to traffic congestion, pollution and poor health in cities everywhere do not reflect contemporary values, nor are they sustainable. PARK(ing) Day raises these issues and demonstrates that even temporary projects can improve the character and quality of the city."
Since 2005, PARK(ing) Day has grown rapidly. The 2010 event included more than 800 "PARK" installations in more than 180 cities on six continents. From Iran to Madagascar, Venezuela to South Korea, the project continues to expand to urban centers across the globe, and participants have broadened the scope of PARK installations to fulfill a range of unmet social needs. "From public parks to free health clinics, from art galleries to demonstration gardens, PARK(ing) Day participants have claimed the metered parking space as a rich new territory for creative experimentation, activism, socializing and play," says John Bela, a Rebar principal.
PARK(ing) Day is an "open-source" project initiated by Rebar, but built by independent groups around the globe who adapt the project to advance creative, social or political causes that are relevant to their local urban conditions. "While PARK(ing) Day may be temporary," Bela adds, "the image of possibility it offers has lasting effects and is shifting the way streets are perceived and utilized."
In recent years, PARK(ing) Day has inspired city governments to create legal mechanisms to extend the public realm into the parking lane. In San Francisco, the Pavement to Parks "Parklet" program provides a permit system for businesses, community groups and individuals to transform metered parking spaces into small "parklets" that are open to the public. In New York City the "pop up cafe" program offers similar permit system for local cafes wishing to offer sidewalk service.(1)
Similar programs in other cities around the United States are currently in development. "What has been really gratifying," says Rebar principal Blaine Merker, "is that PARK(ing) Day, which began as a guerilla art project, has been adopted by cities and integrated into their official planning strategies. A relatively modest art intervention has changed the way cities conceive, organize and use public space."
For more information, visit the PARK(ing) Day project website at www.parkingday.org .
About Rebar (www.rebargroup.org). Founded in 2004 in San Francisco, Rebar is an internationally recognized art and design studio operating at the intersection of art, design and ecology.
Principal, Rebar Art & Design Studio