Tell me more: PARK(ing) Day is an international event that invites participants to take over a metered parking space and transform it into a temporary park. It’s an exercise in transforming public places in small ways, and – like our Ceiling as Site project – asks us to consider how we might intervene in spaces that usually feel off limits.
Classroom applications: When we’ve done this project with students, we usually take about a week of class time (including designing, building and testing) to prepare for the day itself. We use found and borrowed materials, including Astroturf or Groundplane material, lumber, cinder blocks, park/beach supplies and “natural” items like potted plants. We begin by studying images of PARKing Day precedents, and invite students to use Post-Its to comment on the designs. We then visit a park together and map it, describing different structures, surfaces and activities. (Use this worksheet to guide your thinking.) It might also be useful to watch William Whyte’s classic film The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces while discussing how we measure the success of spaces, and what physical attributes make a public space successful. Next, prototype: Divide students into groups and assign specific design challenges: Seating, Activities, Plants and Publicity. Challenge students to design furniture and activities that can be disassembled and reassembled in under 8 minutes. Finally, celebrate PARKing Day by setting up in the street outside!
PARKing Day is always the third Friday in September, which makes it perfect for a beginning-of-the-year mini-challenge for students just getting into a creative habit. There are lots of useful resources available at the project website, http://parkingday.org/.