Carparks become parks on first islandwide Park(ing) Day

Singapore holds its largest ever Park(ing) Day, in which people can book a lot with the URA and convert it into their own community space for a day. An installation by SUTD students titled "My Home Garden" occupies a parking lot along Hamilton Road.
Singapore holds its largest ever Park(ing) Day, in which people can book a lot with the URA and convert it into their own community space for a day. An installation by SUTD students titled "My Home Garden" occupies a parking lot along Hamilton Road. -- ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG

SINGAPORE - When the parking attendant made his rounds on Ann Siang road Friday afternoon, he gave a nod of approval to Ms Fiona Tan, who had parked a bright blue cardboard vending machine in one of the lots.

The 26-year-old architecture designer flashed a special "PARKing" coupon that she had received from the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA), which allowed her to convert the lot into a community space for the day.

The URA declared Friday Park(ing) Day and joined 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.

A total of 88 parking lots from Jalan Besar to the Central Business District were transformed into gardens, living rooms, games stations, and even a barber shop.

"It's something new," said Mr Umar Ismail, 56, who works at a hardware shop on Cavan Road in Jalan Besar, along which a herb garden, a floral design exhibit and a student-designed canopy had sprung up.

"People always display art at schools or the museum and it's not grassroots. Maybe next time you (URA) can cover the whole street," said Mr Ismail.

"But don't do it on Monday," he added. "Friday is good because it's the last day, there's not much orders, and most of the shops are closed."

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.