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Inspiring Examples

A few examples of innovative temporary projects on stalled or under utilised open spaces in cities across the world.

'PARK(ing) Day', Worldwide

PARK(ing) Day is an 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.

'Proxy', San Francisco, USA

City officials and local designers in San Francisco turn city-owned 'stalled' sites into something creative and interesting, such as pop up parks and artworks.

"We see it as an economic development activity," said Rich Hillis of the Mayor's Office of Economic Development. "If there's something exciting on those sites, it helps bring more interest and foot traffic."

Proxy, a design concept by architect Douglas Burnham filled two empty lots along Octavia Boulevard with portal structures and communal space design to stay in place no more than three years.

'Under Bridges', Mexico City, Mexico

Under Bridges is an initiative by city planners to convert the vacant, trash-strewn lots beneath Mexico City's overpasses and freeways into shopping plazas, public playgrounds and outdoor cafes.

"These were spaces that generated no benefit and had been illegally appropriated as dumping grounds for trash or as homeless campsites," said Eduardo Aguilar, an urban planner for the Mexico City government who helped design the program.

They are now vibrant little nooks in the city where people come to eat, play and relax.

'Hayes Valley Farm', San Francisco, USA

When the City of San Francisco removed a freeway off-ramp, there remained 2.5 acres of unused space. The plot was originally slated to become condos, but then the economy tanked and the plan was shelved for 2-5 years. In the meantime a group of urban farmers, garden educators, and landscape designers joined together to get permission from the City of San Francisco to use the lot as an urban farm, and so Hayes Valley Farm was born.

'The Riverpark Farm', Manhattan, NY, USA

The Riverpark Farm at Alexandria Center is one of the largest and most urban farming models in New York City. The farm's first location was on a site in Manhattan where construction had been temporarily suspended due to the recent financial crisis. This "stalled site" was one of 700 in New York City alone.

The Farm remains a landmark example of the temporary alternative use of a stalled site to stimulate local interest and economic activity, benefit the environment, beautify an area, and engage the community.

'Pop Up City', Cleveland, USA

Established by the Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative in 2007, Pop Up City is an action-based research program that explores ideas for urban reinvention through temporary interventions. This research contributes to an understanding of the challenges of shrinking cities, an area of growing social importance since an increasing number of cities worldwide are grappling with population decline.

Pop Up City has evolved over the years to respond to the changing needs found in underused urban environments. Projects range in duration from a few hours to several weeks and vary in scale from a single storefront to multiple city blocks.

'Granby Park' Dublin, Ireland

Granby Park, is an urban, 'pop-up' park in a currently vacant site in Dublin's inner city. It is made from up-cycled, recycled, donated and found material and features some of the city's most talented artists, architects, performers, planners etc. It has an outdoor cinema, a theatre made by kids from palettes, an education zone, exhibitions, a play area, a café, art installations, and lots, lots more.

The project is led by Upstart, a local non-profit voluntary arts collective and with support from Dublin City Council, planners, architects, landscape architects, and the local community.

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