Parking and recreation: artists transform spaces

Over 30 parking spaces in the city were transformed on Friday into tiny parks, art pieces and fields

City & State Editor
Monday, September 23, 2013

Rep. Arthur Handy, D-Cranston, organized the “parklet” in the state government parking lot, which provided space for food trucks.

Drivers looking for a parking spot in Providence Friday may have encountered an unexpected difficulty — finding small parks where they thought they could have parked.

Artists, designers and students took over more than 30 parking spots around the city, converting them into educational spaces and pieces of art or repurposing them for other uses — like a field for the game cornhole. The artists were participating in Park(ing) Day, a worldwide event designed to reshape how people think about public spaces.

Some of the parks — like the lounge outside restaurant AS220 — were simple, consisting of a few chairs and a rug, while others were more extensive.

Heather Hussey, a senior landscape architect student at University of Rhode Island, laid down a grass floor and covered it with plants and small trees, providing enough cover to convince visitors they had entered a natural park.

The annual event began in 2005, when San Francisco design company Rebar transformed a parking spot in front of its office that “stood in place for two hours —  the term of the lease offered on the face of the parking meter. When the meter expired, we rolled up the sod, packed away the bench and the tree, and gave the block a good sweep and left,” the group wrote on the event website.

The state government joined the celebration as well, sponsoring a farmers market in its parking lot. Rep. Arthur Handy, D-Cranston, organized the “parklet,” which provided about 10 parking spaces to food trucks and produce providers.

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