City of Sound is about cities, design, architecture, music, media, politics and more. Written by Dan Hill since 2001.

PARKing Day Sydney 2008

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We (Arup Sydney) were part of the worldwide event known as PARKing Day yesterday. Grabbing a bit of spare tarmac outside Customs House by Circular Quay, colleagues from various teams set up shop with some mulch, haybales, fruit and veg, connectivity, one of the fleet Smart cars – and this being Australia – a chook.



PARKing Day is a one-day, global, open source-style event where parking space is reclaimed (simply by pumping some dollars into a parking meter, usually) and turned into temporary public parks – see events in San Francisco (where it started, invented by REBAR), LA and Melbourne, for instance. I was in Brisbane for the day, so didn’t get to see how our park turned out in person – though I did see a parking spot in the Valley turned into a grassy table football venue (the Brisbane PARKing Days are really well organised, with over 47 ‘parks’ this year, apparently).

Our team had chosen the theme of ‘productivity’ – hence the urban agriculture and wi-fi – and the little park drew a lot of positive attention from passers-by throughout the day. We asked people to contribute their wishes for Sydney, which were pinned to a tree in the ‘park’.




People seemed to love it and we think we may have been one of the only such parks in Sydney (drop a comment in if you know of others) although there was a brave park on King Street, Newtown back in April.




Much thanks to my friends at Customs House, and thanks also to Wired Sky for the wi-fi coverage, and several others from the office who helped out hugely. Most credit goes to planning technician Safiah Moore, who initiated and organised the whole thing. And donated the chook. A good day.




11 responses to “PARKing Day Sydney 2008”

  1. Carlos Alonso Avatar

    A friend introduced me yesterday to garden guerrilla. Although this seems to also ‘play by the rules’ in the sense that you’re not breaking any law, which is fine with me, these kind of actions have much more impact and visibility than garden guerrilla actions, where people plant in spaces already designed to have plants. For a political action, the more visibility, the better, isn’t it?
    The wi-fi and the wish-tree are two excellent points!


  2. Designer baby Bags Avatar

    Great way to raise awareness! Looks like the kiddos loved the chickens.


  3. Yen Avatar

    Hi Dan
    Glad you saw ReversePARK, in the Valley!
    They didn’t create spaces but we know a couple Sydney offices/design firms who know about the idea (if you guys wanted to organise something bigger next years – happy to share contacts)
    Perth was also the other Australian city who contacted us (couple of spaces done by City of Perth urban designers)
    Yen (Bris Parking)


  4. Björn Rust Avatar

    Congratulations on your park Dan. It’s a shame you weren’t able introduce yourself to us on Friday. For further reference, has been updated with a video of some parks in the valley cluster.


  5. Clarence Eckerson Jr. Avatar

    Now that looked like fun. Wish I was there, in fact I wished I was all over the world instantaneously celebrating PARKing Day. But I was here in NYC where we had over 50 of them.
    Take a gander at our NYC Streetfilm on PARKing Day if you wish:


  6. Jarrett Avatar

    We Westerners are so polite and organised about these things. One of my most vivid memories of India is the way that the movement functions of the street must coexist with the placehood functions. There will always be the conflict between movement and placehood — it goes back to Augustine’s opposition of Becoming vs Being — but in India the need for public place is so great that portions of streets are spontaneously appropriated for it. If nobody pushes back, outer lanes of busy streets are filled up by pedestrians, and then by little booths or tables of merchants (who push the pedestrians into the next lane and begin to colonise that one). Finally, fairly permanent structures get built in what was once a traffic lane. Obviously, traffic pushes back with its own needs for clear space, but the tension is continuous and dynamic.
    Once, when touring a proposed Bus Rapid Transit corridor in Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh with my clients, I observed that the street — continuously lined with small vendors for many km — seemed too narrow for BRT to work. The client explained that the actual street right of way extended well back behind the merchants, and even beyond some of the fairly permanent structures behind them.
    I discussed and illustrated this fascinating process in the course of my walking tour of Delhi here:
    All this comes to mind in response to these inspiring but distinctively Western festivals, such as you describe. Much of the world has a completely different and much more dynamic way of experiencing and using road space.


  7. Bob Meade Avatar

    Here’s a view of the same place in the 1890’s before cars could be seen. Still needed wagon parking though:
    Customs House, Circular Quay, Sydney


  8. Lee Avatar

    I didn’t get a chance to organise something for here in Sydney but had pointed my students to the PARKing site. My friend and colleague in Brisbane, Nicole, organised a group of architecture students to create some ‘parks.’ I hope to do something similar next year – i’d be happy to hear of Yen’s contacts and maybe something can be put together…


  9. manuela Avatar

    call for designers and architects!
    join us in the new sharing area moroso design – the act of telling design through your projects
    to post projects, illustrations, drawings and sketches on our FLICKR account, use you flickr account and looking for the group “area sharing moroso”. so upload!
    if you have not any flickr account, please send an e-mail to and you will receive your password.


  10. michael dye Avatar
    michael dye

    i am looking for a team of people willing to do a ‘park’ next thursday 30th. am involved in a guerilla gardening concept and want to create a distraction given the very public nature of the site. please contact me asap.
    this will be televised.


  11. tiasmith Avatar

    Nice things have been mentioned..
    Tia Smith


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