Parklets are an innovative way to build public gathering spaces right in the heart of an urban streetscape and extend the atmosphere and aesthetic of the neighborhood to the outdoors. Parklets can be an important tool in supporting local business, enlivening city streets, and attracting non-motor driven traffic like cyclists and pedestrians. Built on an elevated platform that makes the parklet flush with the sidewalk, the parking-space sized public space (usually around 8' by 18') can be used for a variety of purposes. They are evolving from a focus on extra seating to creating meaningful spaces that reflect the vibrant cultural communities where they are found. Communities can work with local residents to find out what they would like to see in a parklet, and simple "pop-up" parklets, or temporary exhibitions, can be set up first to test the concept and gauge interest for a more permanent installation. While some start as temporary installations, they can help inform what the community may desire in a more permanent parklet.
In Covington KY, a group named Curb'd took the parklet to the next level, by creating temporary parklets that are fun reflectionsof the neigboring area. Outside a toy shop, a life-size xylophone parklet invites families to play together. Near a barber shop, a boxing ring themed parklet stands ready for play with interactive punching robots. At yet another Covington parklet, a huge igloo invites visitors to hang their personal handwritten wishes up to flutter in the breeze.
Whether you install permanent or temporary parklets, they are a fantastic way to create new spaces for people to gather, relax, and enjoy the neighborhood.
Make a Plan
To find out where to best place parklets in your community, hold public meetings, use online surveys, and post on web, social media, and in local businesses to solicit feedback. Gauge interest and ideas through key questions, like:
- What elements would you like to see in a parklet?
- How would you use the parklet?
- What time of day would you use the parklet?
- How would this idea help bring positivity to the community?
- How would you support the parklet?
In many cases, short-term changes implemented can bring about long-term change.