So much of our interaction with streets involves short, urgent commands. ‘Walk.’ ‘Stop.’ ‘No Turn.’ ‘Do Not Enter.’
So what happens when we are encouraged to relax and stay a while?
PARK(ing) Day challenges designers and pedestrians to throw out the notion of “hurry and leave” and instead use the street as something that contradicts the foundation of our relationship: a public park. Artists, designers, architects, and others from around the world take the opportunity to transform a single metered parking space into a temporary public park.
This year’s PARK(ing) Day took place on September 19. For the event, Marks, Thomas Architects set up on Chase Street in front of the American Institute of Architects, Baltimore Chapter (AIABaltimore), and encouraged visitors to take a breath, concentrate on something other than a deadline, and stay a while and socialize.
Golf is a game that encourages quiet and concentration, but is often rejected by dense urban environments that cannot afford large empty expanses. PAR 2 finds the medium between these ideas by shrinking the scale but maintaining the need for concentration. The design programs two golf holes in the footprint of a traditional parallel parking space, while also including three benches that create a social gathering space that can be used even while a game is occurring. The challenge of a long distance putt is present, while still responding to the demand for density in urban environments.
Utilizing space in cities
Baltimore is a city that maximizes its density. This principle is reflected by the shared walls of rowhomes in neighborhoods and the strong identity of each neighborhood. At Marks, Thomas Architects, we frequently focus on reusing/rehabilitating structures otherwise left in disrepair — restoring the urban fabric and the prestige of the surrounding neighborhood. Across Baltimore, vacant lots are being adopted by the communities that surround them, and used to create community gardens, murals, or simple social spaces that strengthen the city’s neighborhoods.
Our project reflects a similar ingenuity and economy of space by offering both gathering space and the opportunity for friendly, affordable competition for all ages.
PAR 2 was very well received amongst passersby; even visitors who have never held a golf club caught on quickly, and were enjoying the simple competition with one another. Not every neighborhood has a house on every lot, and a car in every space. It would not be hard to imagine a similar setup on a vacant lot around Baltimore, or any other major city, becoming quite popular.
Our design is not only an exercise in social sustainability but also in sustainable design. PARK(ing) Day emphasizes careful selection of materials and strongly encourages reuse and up-cycling. The designers at Marks, Thomas Architects used only reclaimed lumber, reused cardboard, and environmentally responsible carpet tile in their construction. With the help of community resources like the Station North Tool Library, the team was able to construct a modular mini-golf hole that was easily transported, constructed, deconstructed, and stored until future use.
These material choices helped shape the overall design. Choosing to focus on reclaimed lumber, our team designed a bench system that allows for long, warped and damaged boards to be used by minimizing the length of individual components. The irregularity of the “seat” components allowed for the use of off-cuts, minimizing the waste from irregular and damaged boards while also creating the pattern of the seat. This principle allowed the team to assemble benches up to nine feet in length with almost no waste.
The result? A design that is durable enough for public use, attractive enough for a parking spot on Main Street, and a game that is fun for neighbors of any age.
And you only need to move one car.
To start a conversation about how we can help you with an urban revitalization or adaptive reuse project, reach out to Marks, Thomas Architects today.