Pop up Parklets! The role of technology in city-making

AIT Austrian Institute of Technology GmbH

Download Presentation: 14-Pop up parklets-Juan Carlos Carvajal-Institute of Technology

Over the last few years, informal interventions spontaneously initiated by citizens have become increasingly popular. “Guerrilla”, “tactical”, “pop-up” and “DIY” urbanism are some of the terms coined to describe this trend. Short-term and low-cost constructions offer people the opportunity to shape their environment for their own needs, and eventually lay the groundwork for long-term transformations. Additionally, temporary interventions create nodes of social interaction and interchange at the neighborhood level. The potential of such interventions to create vibrant streets and neighborhoods has been already recognized by city administrations. For example, the city of Vienna has authorized the installation of parklets in many of the city’s parking places. There are, however, some limitations that should be taken into consideration when installing parklets. The understanding of such limitations can be simplified using open data and network technologies. This, unlike neogeography, is not so much about mapping shared interests but rather about visualizing the possibilities available in urban spaces. By allowing people to explore their urban space with a whole new filter, namely that of opportunities to intervene and create playful experiences in the city, it is possible to encourage citizens to become active in their neighborhoods and start transformation processes at the local level. Potential maps make it possible to condense intricate sets of regulations in a simple web-based cartography that uses basic visual elements to inform citizens about the possibilities and limitations for activities in public spaces. By superimposing and combining layers of information regarding parking spaces, hydrants, load zones, bicycle parking racks, reserved parking spaces, etc., it is possible to identify and highlight potential places for temporary interventions, such as parklets. This significantly reduces the effort needed by citizens to become active in public spaces and it is, at the same time, an invitation to make use of the possibilities that the city offers them, even if these are limited. The parklet potential map works as a catalyst for change in the city. It offers an understanding of urban space that would otherwise remain difficult to obtain by citizens, therefore paving the way for temporary (as well as potentially long-term) participation in urban transformations.