Talking Public Space and Urban Intervention With San Francisco’s Rebar Studio

by , 06/10/14

Rebar, Green Design, Parking Day, Urban Planning, Parklet, San Francisco, Public Space

Rebar’s first Park(ing) Day

INHABITAT: So it was technically legal?

MATT: Yes, which was important, as we wanted to be operating within this legal loophole, within the confines of the law, to repurpose this space for a creative use.

INHABITAT: How did Park(ing) Day grow, and what inspired you to do it again the next year?

MATT: We did next to no outreach prior to the creation of the project, but afterwards, we had some really great images and videos, which we sent out to people and the project gained traction on some blogs. Then it started to go viral and the whole “PARK(ing) Day” project blossomed out of that. People started asking us to come and replicate the project in their city. It really only cost a couple hundred dollars and took a few emails and meetings to create, so we made a decision to make it an “open source” project. We created a how-to manual we could send out to people and say “do it yourselves” and just asked them to give us credit for the idea and not to use it for a commercial purpose. Other than those restrictions, people are free to adapt and remix and remake the project however they will. Other PARK(ing) projects sort of started trickling in between 2005 and 2006. There was a park in L.A., one in Scotland, one in Italy, and as the year went on, we thought: “ . . . we should really organize this! We should focus all of this interest on a single day, to make a much bigger statement about the use of public space.” So in 2006, Park(ing) Day was born.

For Park(ing) Day 2011, there were some interesting and far-flung cities participating– including Beijing and Tehran. There were also a few examples of people being shut down by the police, which is actually quite uncommon. But we invite people to leave the street cleaner than they found it – sweep the entire block, not just clean up their installation but take pride in their city. We haven’t calculated this year’s numbers yet, the stories are still trickling in from around the globe, but we anticipate it will be at least as big as last year and probably quite a bit bigger.

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