People move around and inhabit outdoor city spaces in many different ways. Patches of grass in parks are regularly claimed to relax or picnic upon, benches are used for a brief pause or longer rests, and cars are parked in many different spaces and places. However, parking is really the only method where a defined outdoor space is temporarily claimed. With a parking space there is a recognised set of rules and once the car is parked between the lines and a ticket is displayed (if necessary), then the car is able to stay there for an allotted time. The question that a global initiative PARking Day queries is, does this arrangement only have to exist for cars and can you park something else within a parking space?
That is what Rebar Studio set out to question in San Francisco in 2005 when they set up a single parking space as a park for a day. This has now evolved into a global movement called PARKing Day, where companies and individuals temporarily re-imagine what a city parking space could be and take a more active role in defining their preferred use of this public/private space.
Last week around 77 Interior Environmental Design students from Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design (DJCAD) joined this global initiative and collaborated on six installations in car parking spaces around the university campus and on Perth Road in Dundee. The installations lasted for just one day, but they put Dundee on the map alongside over 162 cities worldwide, where around 920 parking space interventions were made.
This intervention was visually very striking and each bulb represented a person that had visited the Shape Dundee parking space. The bulbs hung from a simplified geographic shape of Dundee, and the height of each bulb was defined by the person who had helped the students map out this vague dimension for the city.
Upon arrival, I was welcomed in and given a lightbulb to decorate. My height was measured on a piece of rope hanging down from the ceiling, before hanging my personalised bulb alongside many others within the space. Almost all of the lightbulbs were decorated and hung by the time I arrived, so it was easy to see they had had a busy morning.
Drive Your Drawings
This space was filled with circular colour and the creative Drive Your Drawings group had a number of cogs turning and wheels spinning to enable visitors to explore making a number of colourful marks.
I was drawn into this space first by all the movement that seemed to be happening inside. Then was delighted to be invited to make my own experimental wheel of colour using one of the rather exciting looking contraptions – they didn’t disappoint. The three machines were a fun way to encourage creative play in both adults and children, whilst the wheels gave a nod towards cars that may have otherwise been parking there that day.
Pier Over Here
This installation turned a small patch of land just off Perth road into a small seaside delight. Pier Over Here had a large structure, cut-out photo boards and a sandpit, complete with sand castles, buckets, spades and messages in bottles.
When I passed there was a healthy selection of people reclining on lilos, taking photos and one imaginative child running through the sand, before jumping into the (cling film) sea. He looked like he was genuinely on his holidays and I think the only thing missing was the sunshine.
This group offered up a colourful alternative land to explore, where the laws of the land were suggested by the people that were present in the space. I quickly read a few tags which included requests for free cake, fairy lights, democracy and naked Tuesdays!
This healthy intervention offered visitors a slow food option, by providing them with seed starter kits to take home and grow their own herbs with. The space had a definite green touch to it, with some fully grown herbs to inspire budding gardeners with and menu of Chives, Mint, Sage, Rosemary and Parsley to choose from.
This friendly group had transformed their parking space into a pop-up cafe, serving fresh coffee and then recycling the used coffee as part of their compost mix for planting a number of seeds. They had a practical coffee bar structure, with the addition of a few fun features such as a seats made from old tyres. The coffee tasted good and if my lavender seedling grows then it should smell good too.
Ultimately the students brought an element of fun into the streets of Dundee. For a short space of time, they also brought a new sense of value to the common parking space by making it a tactile place to create, drink, relax, play and learn. What would you do if you could take over a small outdoor space in Dundee for just one day?