On Friday, September 21 I spent part of my day roaming through Philadelphia checking out many of the Park(ing) Day creations. Park(ing) Day was first created in San Francisco where parking spaces were converted into temporary one-day parks. It has since spread to many major cities around the world. As I travelled around Philadelphia I had a chance to stop at many of the parks. Most of them fell into a standard format; hay bales or trees used to form a barricade to separate traffic from the park long with shrubs and/or shrubs. In some cases grass, gravel or wood chips was used to cover the pavement.
There was one stand out park created by Groundswell Design Group; they repurposed a parking space using an ordinary item to create an extraordinary experience. They took a standard steel shipping container cleaned it, repainted the interior and the exterior, planted a green roof on top of it using wild flowers, and hung works of art by a local artist. Creating a mini portable art gallery; complete with interior lighting and two benches so you could sit and enjoy them.
The Groundswell Design Group unique design made it visible from a distance, but left you asking yourself what it was so you needed to see it. With both ends open it allowed for plenty of natural light and air circulation. And at the same time the container blocked out the noise and exhaust from the street.
I would like to put forward a challenge to the planners and the 2013 participants. Plan something that is more than a park. How about the Temple or University of Pennsylvania theatre departments doing 5 minute abridged performances of great plays, area dance companies could create multiple short performance pieces to be choreographed to fit into a parking space. Or how about the local Burning Man group, Videogasm, creating a truly unique structure.