Gallery: Talking Public Space and Urban Intervention With San Francisco...


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.

INHABITAT: How did Rebar get its start?

MATT: Rebar started around a project called the Cabinet National Library. We were inspired by an art magazine in Brooklyn called Cabinet, which had bought a piece of land in New Mexico on eBay and invited cultural events and installations to occur on the land. I actually to them  a “National Library,” which would be a file cabinet in an earthen berm that would house all the back issues of their magazine. They thought that was great and hilarious. At the time, one of my friends, John Bela, was in graduate school studying landscape architecture, and we started talking about this project. We eventually developed a plan, and we built it in 2004. Following that very fruitful collaboration, we decided to create an organization, call ourselves Rebar, and pursue more projects. The second project was “PARK(ing),” which evolved into Park(ing) Day. Once that project blew up, there were so many opportunities, and so much interest in our work, that we really needed to form an organization and develop ourselves creatively.

INHABITAT: What can you tell me about the inspiration behind Park(ing) Day, and how is Rebar staying involved as the project grows?

MATT: We first did [PARK(ing) Day] on Mission Street, here in San Francisco. It started with occupying one parking space for two hours, which was the term of the lease offered on the face of the parking meter.


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