“urban activists occupy parking space and convert them into a usable public space for a day”
This year on Friday 18 September, Future Cape Town, along with its partners Blok, Young Urbanists and Future Lagos, decided to use this opportunity in Cape Town and Lagos to challenge the current mindset that parking bays are only meant for cars.
By Alex Bohmer
A major part of making our cities more liveable is changing the way people see their cities and encouraging them to see the possibilities of urban space beyond the status quo. International Park(ing) Day is an event that promotes such public space reimagination. Now in its tenth year, the event encourages urban activists to occupy parking spaces around the world and convert them into a usable public space for a day.
This year on Friday 18 September, Future Cape Town, along with its partners Blok, Young Urbanists and Future Lagos, decided to use this opportunity in Cape Town and Lagos to challenge the current mindset that parking bays are only meant for cars. In Sea Point, Future Cape Town, Young Urbanists and Blok teamed up to take on the harsh traffic in Regent Road and took over two parking bays in front of the Blok showroom. The intention behind the intervention was to introduce a contrast with the current hard, loud nature of the street through the creation of a soft, relaxing space.
Fighting the howling southeaster and dodging minibus taxis, the team arrived early to reserve the parking bays. Felt and artificial grass were unrolled along the 12 metre length (yes, that’s how much space two cars take up!), followed by hay bales, plants from Sea Point Nursery across the road, some chairs, a Foosball table and an exercise bicycle to complete a mini oasis in the churn of Regent Road.
Passers-by were encouraged to have a seat, take a break and show off their Foosball skills. As people walked past, the surprised reactions to the occupied parking bays and people sitting happily amongst traffic, showed that this small public space gesture was able to challenge how people saw the streets around them. The southeaster was not the team’s only challenge, however. Halfway through the day, officials from the city requested the removal of the intervention to allow the parking bays to once again be used for their intended purpose. However this was not the real end, as the same bays may soon host to a parklet, a joint project between Future Cape Town and Blok. So watch this (parking) space.
Elsewhere in Cape Town, GAPP Architects and Urban Designers activated the parklet outside their offices in Cape Town’s CBD, whilst Open Streets Cape Town created a ‘people-bay’ in Harrington Street, with comfortable seating, plants and music.
Over in Lagos, the Future Lagos team, with the support of Picnickers Anonymous, Lagos Goethe Institut and Urban Fuxion food truck, transformed a busy banking district in Lagos Island into a temporary picnic spot.
- Future Cape Town and Blok PARK(let) competition
- FUTURE CAPE TOWN | How to co-design the future of public space? A case from Milan.
- WATCH: How to create a space for urban agriculture
- Pictures 1-6 by Alex Bohmer, Christine Dalle-Vedove, Rashiq Fataar and Brett Petzer, Future Cape Town
- Picture 7 by Micheal de Beer, GAPP Architects
- Pictures 8-12 by Olamide Udoma, Future Lagos