Time to re-think the parking bay?

“The right to the city is not simply the right to what already exists in the city; it is also the right to transform the city into something radically different” – David Harvey, 2009.

The vast majority of outdoor urban space is dedicated to the private vehicle, while only a fraction of that land is allocated to open space for people. A metered parking spot is an inexpensive short-term lease for a plot of precious urban real estate. What is the range of possibilities for creativity in a space usually dedicated to the storage of a private vehicle?

Motivated by the desire to activate the metered parking space as a site for creative experimentation, political and cultural expression, and unscripted social interaction, Rebar offers Park(ing) Day as a prototype for open-source urban design, accessible to all.

Park(ing) Day is a annual open-source global event where citizens, artists and activists collaborate to temporarily transform metered parking spaces into “Park(ing)” spaces: temporary public places. The project began in 2005 when Rebar, a San Francisco art and design studio, converted a single metered parking space into a temporary public park in downtown San Francisco. Since 2005, Park(ing) Day has evolved into a global movement, with organizations and individuals (operating independently of Rebar but following an established set of guidelines) creating new forms of temporary public space in urban contexts around the world.

The mission of Park(ing) Day is to call attention to the need for more urban open space, to generate critical debate around the vast possibility embedded in every metered rectangle of asphalt, to help our cities become healthier, more comfortable, more creative and more successful outdoor human habitat…. at least until the meter runs out!

According to the Park(ing) Day official register, the 20th of September 2013 Park(ing) Day takes place in Johannesburg for the first time on the African continent. Park(ing) Day – Johannesburg 2013 is the first attempt to provide temporary open space within an urban environment and to join the global debate from a “First Class African City” perspective.

Downtown Johannesburg has experimented with several transformations in the last decade. With the opening of urban space during democratization its public realm became a “no-go” area, an unusable place of fear, for many citizens. With developments in recent years, the urban space is becoming more accessible for all its inhabitants again. But this also fosters the need for discussions on equality and “the right to the city”.

“The Right to the City” is not a new proposal. The term was first articulated in 1968 by French philosopher Herni Lefebvre in his book “Le droit à la ville”. The book describes the negative impact that the capitalist economy has on cities, converting the city into a commodity serving only the interests of capital accumulation. Facing the effects caused by neoliberalism, such as the privatization of urban space, the commercial use of the city, and the predominance of industries and commercial areas, a new political perspective is proposed known as the right to the city.

Park(ing) Day – Johannesburg 2013 brings the discussion to the local context of Johannesburg and, more specifically, Braamfontein – a focus point of urban regeneration. The aim of the initiative is to create a different perception of the public space – inclusive and interactive – by showing its possibilities of positive, non-commercial activities and use. To achieve this goal different debates and activities will take place in metered parking spots to stimulate the imagination of residents and include them as key participants for the transformation of the city into something different.

Furthermore Park(ing) Day –  Johannesburg 2013 wants to enrich the debate on ecological and social sustainable aspects of the city, from public transport and green space to informal economies and safety issues.

Park(ing) Day – Johannesburg 2013 will not work with parking-meters but actual people – parking guides who we will pay to use the allocated space and redefine the 5 by 2.5 metre spaces around the topics: create, research, play and relax!



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3 Responses to “Time to re-think the parking bay?”

  1. victoriaokoye

    This is very cool, and glad there are initiatives like this taking place in general. I worked with a team of urban planners and architects here in Accra, Ghana to transform a car park into a pocket park (for people) earlier this month in line with Park(ing) Day (unfortunately due to logistics and planning, it made more sense to do it earlier this month rather than the actual, international day). 

    Looking forward to seeing the results of your pop-up park! Best of luck and please keep us posted. 

  2. marlene

    Thank you ! Great Accra!

    Find out everything here

    19th of September 2014!

    • BrendonB

      Take a look at the site next week. We’ll have an updated post on this year’s (Park)ing day


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