One of the interesting urban development’s happening in some places overseas – most notably in San Francisco – is the development of the Parklet. They are effect mini open space designed to enhance the local environment and are created in the space of one or more on-street carparks. But rather than me re-inventing the wheel, here is a description of them from the San Francisco Parklet Manual:
A parklet repurposes part of the street into a public space for people. They are intended as aesthetic enhancements to the streetscape, providing an economical solution to the need for increased public open space. Parklets provide amenities like seating, planting, bike parking, and art. While parklets are funded and maintained by neighbouring businesses, residents, and community organizations, they are publicly accessible and open to all.
The world’s first formal public parklets were initially conceived and installed in San Francisco in 2010. As of February 2013, thirty-eight parklets have been installed throughout San Francisco, and the program is being emulated in cities around the world.
Parklets enhance our neighbourhoods by adding beauty and whimsy to the City’s streets. They reflect the diversity and creativity of the people and organizations who sponsor and design them. They also reflect the City’s commitment to encouraging walking and biking, creating great streets, and strengthening our communities.
Parklets catalyse vitality and activity in the city’s commercial districts. They support local business communities by encouraging pedestrians to linger. Parklets can serve as neighbourhood anchors and destination points—providing spaces for neighbours to gather and get to know one another. Collectively, parklets broaden the potential for the public realm to engage and delight while adding much needed open space to our commercial corridors.
But rather than explain what they are in words, here are some examples from the Parklet Manual although a quick search of Google finds a huge variety of them.
Many cities and communities are finding these parklets extremely valuable and I imagine they are really helping to break down the perception from many business people that having space for cars is the most important use of land outside their businesses.
Well the great news is we may be seeing parklets developed here in Auckland. The Kingsland Business Society and the Albert-Eden Local board are holding a competition for students or recent graduates to come up with a design for the area for the footpath area for the Sandringham Rd/New North Rd corner and alongside the Trinity Church Hall. A parklet is one of the options that could be developed, here is the press release:
San Francisco style ‘parklet’ proposed for Kingsland gateway
The trendy inner city suburb of Kingsland could soon be adopting one of the more distinctive design features of the San Francisco streetscape – the parklet.
Seen as a respite from busy urban roads, the parklet offers a mini oasis of calm, usually with seats and plants, and can be used to differentiate one area from another.
Kingsland Business Society manager Christine Foley saw the popularity of parklets on a recent trip to San Francisco. “It was great to see how much locals used even the smallest of spaces” she said. “I am very enthusiastic about what this could do for our urban areas.”
A new Urban Design Competition just launched in Kingsland is looking for a plan to redevelop the entrance to Kingsland village at the corner of Sandringham Road and New North Road and a parklet could be ideal.
The competition focuses on the pavement area outside the Trinity Church Hall on the corner of Sandringham Road and New North Road.
The brief is to design a gateway demarcation and “people place” where the transition of land use occurs going into the village.
Entries are expected to feature distinctive plantings and there is the possibility of parking curb extensions.
Entrants in the competition must be currently enrolled in a design or arts course at Unitec, or the School of Architecture & Planning at the University of Auckland or be a graduate landscape architect with less than three years since graduating.
The winning design will receive a cash prize of $600 and the opportunity for the plan to be further developed, subject to funding and feasibility.
Competition entries will exhibited in Kingsland’s Trinity Church Hall during the Auckland Heritage Festival from late September to early October.
A full design brief for the competition can be found on www.kingslandnz.com.
So if you are a student and are interested in putting an in an entry, the details are here and there is a site briefing next week to go along to.
SITE BRIEFING 4pm Tuesday 3 September at Trinity Church, Cnr Sandringham/New North Rds. Albert-Eden Local Board representative, Project Consultant and Competition Registrar in attendance. For more info tel 379 5553
Another great aspect of this project is that it appears the free left turn out of Sandringham Rd is being removed
Back to parklets, they are something that I suspect would work well in many of our town centres, particularly those in and around the city centre. Another way to think of them is that they provide parking for non-motorised transport modes. Not only this but they can they help provide more public open space without the costly and disruptive process of buying and knocking down buildings while they can also help businesses by encouraging more visitors. They can provide other important functions too – like suggested in the competition above – by helping to inform drivers they are entering into or travelling through a different location and encouraging them to slow down. Of course this doesn’t mean that they will be right for every situation or that we should replace all of our on-street carparks with them but they definitely could be a useful tool.