Gallery: San Francisco’s Parklets Transform Parking Spaces Into Urban O...

It’s a sidewalk café, it’s an urban garden . . . it’s a parklet! In a bid to re-use public space previously used only for hourly car parking, San Francisco has gone all-out for parklets - tiny, urban sidewalk oases. Created from an average of two curbside parking spots, parklets are sprouting up all over the city. With almost two dozen of the tiny parks already constructed and more on the waiting list, San Francisco’s “Pavement to Parks” program has blossomed from its origins as a temporary public art intervention into an official city-sponsored program in just a few years.

Local design studio Rebar was instrumental in developing the concept of using public parking spaces to create a more engaging use for the public – even temporarily. Rebar’s original project started in 2005 with a public art intervention called “PARK(ing)”, in which the designers paid to use the parking space for two hours like any other vehicle, but then renovated it into a temporary public park instead. A statement on the lack of public open space in many of San Francisco’s busy downtown areas, the project morphed into “PARK(ing) Day” – a yearly tradition of guerilla (and increasingly, city-sponsored) art installations in cities worldwide.

With streets and other paved surfaces making up a full quarter of San Francisco’s land area, reclaiming wide zones of wasted space at curbsides, intersections, alleys, and other spots is a key motivation behind the growing parklet program. San Francisco’s Department of Planning is teaming with other city agencies, businesses, and key stakeholders to evaluate the success of the project as it enters its third iteration in the coming year.


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1 Comment

  1. amhsmc July 6, 2012 at 10:34 am

    Every time I go to San Francisco I often find myself in the market street area and further North. I always see little parklets, but the seating often looks so uncomfortable and the surroundings are so hectic that I’ve personally never stopped walking and have never seen anyone use the space either. Open space should be more than just aesthetic improvements, it should have a functional aspect as well. I think because these parklets need to be supported by the nearby business, they are inappropriately placed for maximum effect.

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