Claire Davis from Auckland Council’s Auckland Design Office is planning a transformation of some of Tyler Street’s carparks to parks for people as part of World Park(ing) Day (which itself is part of the NZ Festival of Architecture). Here, she talks about what they’re planning for the day, and why we should rethink the public space we allocate to cars.

Auckland Design Office used temporary paint and furniture to create Federal Street's cycle and pedestrian spaces.

What are you and your team planning for World Park(ing) Day? We’re planning on creating a pop-up park that encourages you to take a moment out of your technology-driven day and enjoy some retro board-game fun. The ‘parklet’ will also provide some greenery and colourful seating with the Auckland Design Office’s (ADO) new PlaceKit furniture set.

What’s the purpose of the event for you? For us the purpose of the event is to temporarily reallocate some of our road space as public space and demonstrate how much more effectively the space can be used. For example, an area could be used for two car parking spaces or, alternatively, a parklet that can accommodate 10 or so people at a time. Auckland has a long history of car-dependency and the design of its streets reflects this. This event is an opportunity to show how a ‘people-first’ city could look; it is a chance to change perceptions so that future streets are constructed around people and people-based activities, not vehicles.

Claire Davis and the Auckland Design Office team were behind the dots on Auckland's Shortland and High Street intersection.

Why do we devote so much precious public space to the storage of empty cars? Great question! It’s certainly making less and less sense as our public transport continues to improve and viable alternatives to driving become a reality. With the transformation that the City Rail Link will soon bring, we see little reason for driving and parking in the city centre, and this is something we hope will be addressed in future street design and road space allocation.

You’ve worked on numerous tactical urbanism projects around Auckland, including the coloured dots on Shortland Street, and the installation of the contraflow cycleway on Federal Street. What is the benefit of temporary or tactical projects like this – how can they persuade people to see the potential of their city differently? The benefit of a tactical urbanism approach is that we can make change quickly and cost-efficiently. Where long-term solutions may take months or years to implement, we are able to be much more responsive and can jump in and address safety concerns on our streets. We are also able to achieve this in a non-conventional manner, often bright and bold, which is a great conversation starter. There has been a steady build-up of energy and excitement since our first installation; public support is growing and a sense of pride is emerging that the council is embarking on something new and intriguing with its values firmly centred on people.

Claire Davis (centre) with her colleagues Elizabeth Au (left) and Georgia Fear (right), are creating a parklet in Tyler Street for World Park(ing) Day on Friday 21 September.

Come down and check out installations by the Auckland Design Office and others designers, including Peddle Thorp and WORLD, Warren & Mahoney, Boffa Miskell, LandLAB and Beca, in Tyler Street on Friday 21 September.