Space is tight in downtown San Diego but a new, roving mini park in the densely populated area could be just the ticket to making the most out of urban public space.
The City of San Diego and the Downtown San Diego Partnership have launched a competition to design an innovative mobile “parklet,” a tiny, pop-up park that transforms former parking spots and other small spaces into a public recreation area.
The team or person with the winning design will receive $5,000 to construct their parklet.
The deadline for entries is Aug. 25 at 5 p.m. Contest organizers say the winning design will be announced on Sept. 1. The newly-built mobile parklet will then be unveiled to the public on Sept. 19 as part of “PARK(ing) Day,” a day that encourages the transformation of parking spaces into mini community parks.
Organizers say the winning parklet will be used in public areas and legally permitted parking spaces throughout downtown San Diego. Besides a new place to gather, the parklet will help San Diegans rethink the way even the smallest spaces in the most crowded communities can be used.
San Diego City Council President Todd Gloria said the project will foster and showcase San Diego’s creative spirit.
“I encourage San Diegans to be innovative, creative, and competitive and bring their best mobile parklet designs forward,” Gloria said in a press release. “Downtown is a thriving neighborhood, and a mobile parklet designed and developed locally will be a great new community amenity.”
Kris Michell, president and CEO of the Downtown San Diego Partnership, said this project is part of the organization’s larger “urban placemaking initiative,” which aims to transform public, downtown paces into lively, engaging areas.
“When space is at a premium, you have to be smart and creative,” Michell said. “This is what this moving parklet competition is all about: finding new ways to use public spaces to bring our community together.”
In June, a new urban “pocket park” in the East Village put this concept to the test. The tiny park – snugly situated in a 2,500-square-foot space between buildings at 13th Avenue and J Street – transformed a small, former parking lot into a cool space for residents and visitors to play and mingle.
That particular park came to be through collaborative efforts between the Downtown San Diego Partnership, the East Village Association, HP Investors – which owns the property and donated the space – and RAD Lab, a downtown architecture and design firm.
A few months earlier, the organizations behind the urban space transformation project hung a blue idea board on the parking lot gate asking the question: “What Do You Want Here?”
In dozens of blank spots below, East Village residents put in their two cents, suggesting ideas like a dog park or children’s play area.
For more information on the new mobile parklet competition, click here.