PARK(ing) Day is celebrated globally when citizens, artists, activists and designers collaborate to temporarily transform metered car parking spaces into PARKs, sparking conversations about how our streets could become better ‘human habitats’.
This year a keen team from Isthmus’ Auckland studio partnered with three Unitec Landscape Architecture students to lay claim to a carpark in lower Queen Street, intent on getting people to think about how they play in Auckland’s central city. Play is fundamental to how we experience cities, impacting how we enjoy the spaces we inhabit.
PARK(ing) Day presents an opportunity to highlight the disparity between the amount of street space provided for cars compared to people, and to initiate conversation about how we play in the city centre. The team asked passersby to explore their associations with the word “park”, inviting them to identify on a map where they ‘park’ (i.e. arrive in the city by car, via public transport, or bicycle) and where they ‘park up’ (relax in the city). This encouraged people to think about the city spatially and their experience within it. While considering this, an apple was offered, representing a moment of pause to reflect on where they as individuals chose to play or find respite in the city. The apple became a metaphor to invite them to reflect and take their own opportunities to pause.
The outcome was a map dotted with pink and yellow stickers illustrating how people use the city. The placement of these stickers told a story but perhaps richer still, was the conversations that occured (with apple in hand) about the city we live in. Even in the busy and fast-paced environment of lower Queen Street, people embraced the opportunity to spend a moment to speak about the spaces they enjoyed spending time in, as well as the spaces they did not.
Our hope is that the conversation continues; how could Auckland’s streets better meet the needs of the people?