Park[ing] Day

Sofia Fourman, Sam Hendrikse, Gabrielle Howdle, Al Newsome, 
Luke Veldhuizen & Liam Winterton



Originating in San Francisco in 2005 and taking place simultaneously in 162 cities and 35 countries; this year’s event in Auckland on September 18th, saw Aucklanders creating and viewing what was a small part of a global movement by designers, activists, students and professionals to engage with the public and raise awareness of issues around what it is to live in modern cities and how we might be able to make better use of public spaces.

The message behind Park[ing] Day was that, by looking at our shared, open spaces differently we can design our streets to cater to the needs of people, not cars. This notion is no different within Auckland’s CBD, idle cars, half-full car-parks and loading zones occupy a large part of our city while pedestrians within the city are squeezed onto narrow pavements; robbed of the public realm.

What started as a guerrilla urban movement 10 years ago is beginning to build momentum as its message and vision becomes ever more relevant to the lives of ordinary people not only those within the landscape profession. This led to the beginning of the collaboration between a group of 3rd year landscape architecture students from Unitec Institute of Technology, Auckland Council and members of the Waitemata Youth Collective. The goal this year was three times the size compared to the previous year, but with the support of NZILA and the Auckland Design Office and the commitment of the students, the ideas were able to take form. 

With the reimagination of public space, three parallel parks were transformed into parklets along Lorne Street. The team settled on the theme of rest, play and engage; each park was designed to one of these ideals. The aim was to make three effective spaces along the busy street and by doing so, create discussion and engagement along the way. The rest parklet was all about creating not only a place to sit, but a destination; this was achieved by stacking recycled pallets at different heights, placing out reading materials handing out fruit and bordering the site with planting. The play parklet allowed the young designer to come out, with the space having a simple turf base and plant border, allowing the life-sized jenga game and bean bags to create a visual impact from down the street. The engagement spaced allowed the group to take a simpler, more community based approach, by placing chalkboards with a variety of questions to ask city users, from where is the best place to get a quick bite to how you got to work; allowing the public to leave their mark. 

In total seven temporary parklets sprung up around the CBD from various groups, creating a unique statement, all helping to take the Park[ing] Day message to Auckland and the international community. 

These parklets were created for the general public and landscape architects to challenge the existing use of car dominated spaces in the city and to reveal how much potential small spaces can have. The challenge was to raise awareness of the event by providing an example and hopefully encouraging more installations like the ones that were implemented on Friday to be undertaken by more community groups in the future. But also to show how little is required to extend public space by providing examples of cheap, quick and fast approaches, reusing and recycling materials to create interesting designs.