Transform Parking into Parklets

  • Posted on: 21 August 2017
  • By: Susanne Wrighton
Parklet - San Francisco, USA

It is very difficult to find a place to sit and relax in an urban environment primary designed for transport with asphalt roads, concrete sidewalks and brick buildings. Hence, towns and cities are transforming parking spots in parklets – public seating platforms that convert curbside parking spaces into vibrant community spaces. They’re mostly designed with a place to sit, greenery and sometimes bike racks. Typically parklets are applied where narrow or congested sidewalks prevent the installation of traditional sidewalk cafés or where local property owners or residents see a need to expand the seating capacity and public space on a given street.
If done well, parklets are a creative way to reimagine street space to best support a mix of downtown activity.


In summer of 2016 the project “Parklets for Stuttgart” started as a real experiment. On various places in Stuttgart students with the help of local participants designed, realized and analysed different urban interventions on parking spots. Participants were citizens, civic associations, businesses, etc., who took responsibility for a small part of a public space by taking care of “their” parklets.
Aim of the project was to research the impacts those installation had on the quality of the public spaces, through observations and interviews. Furthermore, the analysed the process of realisation.

San Francisco

In San Francisco the streets and public rights-of-way take up about 25% of the city’s land area, that is more space than all the public parks combined. Furthermore, many streets are excessively wide and contain large underutilized areas, especially at intersections. The project “Pavement to Parks” aims to transform the underused areas of land to pedestrian spaces, to test the possibilities those areas have.
Each of the transformed areas is meant to be a public laboratory for the City to work with local communities and to test temporarily new ideas in the public realm. After testing their performance, some spaces are reclaimed permanently as public open spaces. Seating, landscaping and paving treatments are common features of all projects.


In Vienna there is a project called “Grätzloase” which supports people who want to creatively and temporarily transform parking and public spaces in something new. The operation aims to create new opportunities to use public space together with other people, strangers, neighbours or friends and thus should promote the improvement of social interactions. Moreover, the operation should not aim to make profit.
Participation is for citizens, schools and kindergartens from Vienna.

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