Global event will see parking spots here 'remade' as creative spaces

Four parking spaces along Circuit Road were turned into community gardens last year as part of Singapore's first Park(ing) Day.
Four parking spaces along Circuit Road were turned into community gardens last year as part of Singapore's first Park(ing) Day.PHOTO: SINGAPORE UNIVERSITY OF TECHNOLOGY AND DESIGN

Global event will see parking spots here 'remade' as creative spaces

Next Friday, carpark spaces around the island will be transformed into parks, living rooms and installations.

More than 30 different groups are coming together to transform the drab spaces into creative spaces.

The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) has declared it Park(ing) Day, so people here can join the international movement to challenge existing notions of city space, by transforming some of the URA's 10,000 coupon-paid parking spaces into temporary parks.

Park(ing) Day began as a single installation in San Francisco in 2005. It has gained a global following since then, with more than 160 cities in six continents taking part in the event.

A tyre swing mini-park in Los Angeles, a giant chessboard in Seattle, an urban forest in Dublin and a ping pong arena in Montenegro are just some of the uses people have found for parking spaces.

In Singapore, two spaces in the Central Business District (CBD) have been claimed by safe night cycling campaign See And Be Seen, which plans to brighten the area with 1,000 blinking bicycle lights when evening falls.

"The cycling community will come with all their lights lit up," said campaign co-founder Lyndon Yeo, 46, a media consultant.

Cyclists and motorists alike can learn how to share the roads with each other at what Mr Yeo promises will be a "mini Dee-pavali festival".

During the day, spaces in Jalan Besar will turn into community gardens and living rooms, as architecture students test out their prototypes that will breathe life into the streetscape.

Dr Chong Keng Hua, an assistant professor of architecture at the Singapore University of Technology and Design, helped organise Singapore's first Park(ing) Day last year. He recalled how the team greened four spaces along Circuit Road to create a safer pedestrian crossing.

"It was quite a scene. Many motorists slowed down as they were curious about what we were doing," he said.

Under a very generous definition of "park", those wishing to create car-size teh tarik stands, libraries, beaches, stages for conducting jam sessions and more can submit their ideas to the URA. If approved, they will receive a special coupon to reserve a parking space for free.

Said a URA spokesman: "There may be a lack of parking lots just for a day, but in place of that we all get to benefit from an increase in public spaces."

The URA also hopes motorists will take public transport that day and pop by the "parks", which will be concentrated in the Jalan Besar and CBD areas.

Shop and restaurant owners in Jalan Besar approached last week said their main concern was whether business would be affected. But participants believe that the event will be a crowd-puller.

Some people are even taking the day off to join the fun.

Among them, three members of Project Hello Stranger, a volunteer movement to spread the spirit of giving, plan to dish out massage therapy and free fanning services to the CBD crowd.

The group will also tile its space with print-outs of cockroaches and other rodents that passers-by can stomp on for stress relief.

Florist Valerie Ong, 25, who leads the group, said: "It's a form of social experiment for us too, to see if Singapore is ready for initiatives like this.

"There's no failure here."

marilee@sph.com.sg