Local artists re-claim car parks
April 1, 2019
Rain didn’t deter Wellington creatives from transforming metered parking spaces on Cuba Street into temporary public parks.
A one-on-one musical performance in a tent, a sustainable weaving class, and a creative Kauri dieback installation were examples of novel ways car parks were transformed over a 10-hour period on Park[ing] Day, March 8.
Wellington Sculpture Trust had commissioned the activities across 30 parks on Cuba Street for the fifth year to show pedestrians how public spaces could be used for their benefit.
Department of Conservation employee and artist Paula Warren had participated each year and believed the global initiative was a steady reminder to everyone just how much space was used by cars.
Census statistics showed about23,000 people commuted into Wellington city every day. Nearly half of these people arrived in a private vehicle, making parking in town prime real estate.
“Central Wellington is very short of green spaces to have lunch… demand for space is so high here,” Warren said.
The alternative use of car parks was something unusual she hoped would encourage people to re-think city spaces.
“A street is not a small road for people, it’s a public open space. It ought to be a people park.”
She believed if pedestrians were encouraged to slow down by interactive public spaces they were more likely to shop, boosting economic wealth for retailers in the city.
Marketview and BNZ collaborative research showed December 2018 online spending on local sites was up 10% from 12 months ago, suggesting consumers were increasingly choosing convenience over in-person shopping experiences.
Many shops on Cuba Street were food based or independent shops without online stores, meaning they relied on foot-traffic.
Warren also emphasised the importance of creating vibrant public spaces for people’s mental well-being, too, saying it was good seeing people stopping to have conversations and interacting with the installations on Park[ing] Day.
She was part of Living Streets Aotearoa which implemented fun green spaces in Christchurch following the 2011 earthquakes.
The aim was to entice people back into the central city and re-connect them with Christchurch and nature.
“Imagine if we had these spaces scattered in Wellington?” she said.
Park[ing] day is an annual event worldwide. You can find more information through Wellington Sculpture Trust or the Wellington City Council.