Brickell

Miami’s PARK(ing) Day helps turn pavement to green space

Gita Shamdasani, Carolina Fiol, Kevin Arrieta, Antonio Mcilwaine, Jean Paul Fiedler and a guest enjoy the pop-up dog café during PARK(ing) Day on Friday, Sept, 16, near downtown Miami.
Gita Shamdasani, Carolina Fiol, Kevin Arrieta, Antonio Mcilwaine, Jean Paul Fiedler and a guest enjoy the pop-up dog café during PARK(ing) Day on Friday, Sept, 16, near downtown Miami. Photo provided to the Miami Herald

As urban development increases in South Florida, Miamians are less likely to find green spaces among the gray buildings. Last week’s PARK(ing) Day challenged creative types around Miami to find new ways to turn city blocks into public open spaces.

PARK(ing) Day is a global movement that began in San Francisco in 2005. Since then, cities all over have taken the idea to transform single parking spaces — each about 8 by 15 feet — into much-needed real estate, setting up temporary parks on the third Friday of September. Clinics, demonstrations and even weddings have popped up with the idea to “challenge existing notions of public urban space and empower people to help redefine space to suit specific community needs.”

On Friday Sept. 16, the inaugural PARK(ing) Day Miami competition took place. Still, it was the third year of participation for Miami since Irvans Augustin of Urban Impact Lab spearheaded the local movement. This year, 10 registered competitors and six noncompeting participants were challenged to create small parks in downtown, Wynwood and Brickell. Metered parking spaces were transformed into soccer parks, lounges and yoga studios. The event came together with support from the Parks Foundation, Urban Impact Lab, Miami-Dade County Parks, the Miami Center for Architecture & Design, and the Miami Parking Authority.

One parklet in front of Publix at Mary Brickell Village catered to man’s best friend. Students from Florida International University, in collaboration with The Underline, transformed a parking space into a pop-up dog café. The team known as VACO Studio printed 3-D dog bowls, dog tags, included live art dog portraits and handed out free treats for the pups. The Underline is a linear park that will stretch 10 miles beneath the Metrorail as a way to connect downtown with neighboring communities.

Kevin Arrieta, Jean Paul Fiedler, Pedro Munariz and Andrea Canaves essentially created their space out of salvaged pallets. Arrieta said the competition and PARK(ing) Day are great ways to bring attention to the importance of preserving the environment around urban areas.

“The dog park was an idea that The Underline reached out to us for. It’s a pallet-driven design in different forms for seating and fencing and as a bar. It’s about reusing materials. It took about 15 minutes to set up making it a portable model,” Arrieta said. “Miami is one of the cities in the nation with the fewest amount of green spaces. This project raises awareness for the need of green spaces in an urban context like here in Brickell and Downtown.”

Gita Shamdasani, the director of development for The Underline, is excited about the innovation and importance young people are giving to community and construction. She hopes that with the involvement of young creatives like VACO Studio and others people can become more proactive in the way their cities are built. She thinks programs like this will unite the Miami community.

“It gives us an opportunity to show Miami, the tourists, people stopping by and everyone else how a parking spot can be turned into a park that everyone can use and enjoy together,” she said.

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To learn more

For more information about PARK(ing) Day, visit http://parkingday.org/about-parking-day.

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