The idea of a pocket park or small area with park like presence is not a new idea. Small parks range in size the smallest recognized by Guinness World Record Book Mills Inn Park. This tiny park located on SW Natio Parkway Portland, OR consists of a single planter with one tree planted inside. The slightly more practical small spaces like Paley Park in New York City illustrate the value small open spaces. Paley offers visitors a space to get away from the hustle and noise of the city. The wonderful pocket park is defined by a large wall of water adjacent to a brick wall lined with ivy and a small coffee cart. Visitors enjoy coffee or tea at one of the many tables inside the parks gate. This Idea of the pocket park as an urban oasis has grown and transformed over time.
In 2005 a new type of small park was created as a temporary installation. Parking days was born in San Francisco created by design firm Rebar who challenged others to think about the use of public space and the opportunity that lies in the transformation of a single parking space. Participates in Parking Days take over single parking spaces and convert them into park like environment for a day. The mission of Parking days is to start a conversation about the need for more open space.
Most recently these temporary installations have inspired a new breed of more Permanent Park, creatively termed “Parkletts”. Often nothing more than a few benches or bean bags and a planter box, Parkletts are popping up in numbers around the city of San Francisco. A feature article in American society of Landscape Architects magazine ASLA featured these spaces. Designs ranged from outdoor café spaces like those seen along the most famous boulevards of Europe to modern sleek metal work and lighting outside a high end auto dealer. I challenge you to think what your downtown would look like if you replaced those surface parking spots with public open space.
~Matt Holt, BLA
Landscape Designer and Consultant