There are many definitions of open spaces. All these definitions simmer down to one simple meaning; they are spaces reserved for greenery, recreation, and community activities. With exceedingly densifying urban sectors around the world, especially in cities with organic and unplanned growth, the city becomes a conglomeration of concrete buildings housing the mass of people in it. Eventually, the city runs out of breathable space. The lifestyle of the urban descends a downward spiral as the construction density increases. The health as well as the aesthetics of the city suffers at the hands of global development.

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Parks and Recreational spaces are a crucial part of the whole that makes up a city. Due to minimal space available to accommodate extensive parks, designers, town planners, and landscape architects came up with creative and feasible solutions- Portable parks or Pop-Up Parks. These parks are an attempt to restore some semblance of community and recreation in dense and dead sections of the city. They are often temporary, built with modular elements that are easy to install and dismantle. They are also designed to be convenient to transport to various parts of the city. Listed below are 8 such design ideas for Portable and Pop-Up Parks.

1. PORTABLE PARKS I-III

Portable Parks I-III was an artwork by Bonnie Ora Sherk executed in the year 1970. The artwork aimed to transform three urban Dead Spaces into green, interactive environments with animals as well as vegetation. It was a temporary revitalization of unused spaces in San Francisco with plants and animals to create portable parks. Sherk’s artwork came long before and influenced San Francisco’s recent frenzy for Parklets and Park-ing days. The Parklet’s and Park-ing days are essentially a temporary conversion of select parking spots and sidewalks into green spaces, resting spaces, or recreational spaces.

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These Portable parks were located in unusual spaces of the city, like elevated freeways and the sides of major roads. The installations created a natural environment; Bonnie brought palm trees, sod, picnic tables, bales of straw, and domestic farm animals to experiment with space and human interaction with greenery in an urban community. The artwork Portable Parks I-III was recently exhibited in the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art for the show Fifty Years of Bay Area Art and the SECA Art Award.

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Portable Parks I-III ©alivinglibrary.org
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A Park under a Freeway ©www.arte-util.org
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Between Buildings ©alivinglibrary.org

2. RED SWING PROJECT

An assignment from the University of Texas School of Architecture for an urban intervention led to the commencement of the Red Swing Project. Initially intended for the city of Austin, Texas, the project found footholds all over the world. It started when a student anonymously hung red swings all over the city in unused urban spaces to infuse playfulness in the neighboring community. This soon turned into something similar to a science experiment as the behavior of people was observed while interacting with the swings.

The swings were made of a red plank of wood tied to mountain-climbing ropes. They were hung up in specific unused locations of the city, bringing people in to create a playground, with the community as playmates. The project soon expanded to various countries like Taiwan, Spain, India, South Korea, Portugal, France, Brazil, and Thailand. The Red Swing Project website provides information about how to construct and hang up the swings to achieve the maximum result. This is a move to let communities hold the power to transform their localities with the help of the red swings.

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The Red Swing ©guerrillaforngo.wordpress.com
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The Red Swing hangs in an unused spot ©guerrillaforngo.wordpress.com
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Children use the Red Swing ©guerrillaforngo.wordpress.com

3. KIT OF PARKS

Kit of Parks is a mass of portable play equipment made in vibrant colors to catch the eyes of young children. It is a literal kit of parts that can make a play park. Easily dismantlable and with many permutations and combinations available for assembly, this kit makes the use of this equipment creative. The users can bring forth their innovativeness to create interesting forms and uses for the various parts included in the kit.

The components are made up of low-cost, lightweight material that can be painted in a variety of colors to appease the user. This can then be fastened to the back of a bicycle and transported to various places. The versatile nature of this Kit of Parks has led to its mass appeal.

The kit was first designed as a prototype funded by the Boston Society of Landscape Architects (BSLA) as a teaching tool and was further on declared a winner of the Play Everywhere Challenge hosted by KaBOOM!

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Kit of Parks ©www.therenewalproject.com
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The assembly ©www.ninachase.com
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People using the Kit ©www.ninachase.com

4. PARKMOBILES

Street Life Plan’s strategy to reinvent and improve urban spaces was met with a simple solution by CMG Landscape Architects. The Parkmobiles thus designed, are a part of Yerba Buena’s sidewalk upgrade. CMG came up with the idea of Parkmobiles inspired by the city’s permission for parking spaces to be temporarily occupied by dumpsters for construction debris collection. The dumpsters were retrofitted with planters and shrubbery to create mini-gardens that could be transported across the city. The dumpsters have a metal container-like structure that holds seats and vegetation alike. These rotating Park Mobiles are an answer to Yerba Buena’s community need for public spaces that revitalize under-used areas. The sturdy red containers add a fresh color to the already refreshing foliage that they contain, bringing in a breath of fresh air to the streetscapes.

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Parkmobiles ©cablecarguy.blogspot.com
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Parkmobiles ©brewminate.com
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Parkmobiles ©popupplanning.wordpress.com

5. GRASSLANDS

Grasslands is the brainchild of Australian artist Linda Tegg. The installation is a site-responsive piece that was intended to recreate the pre-settlement grasslands that covered Melbourne. The concept behind the installation is layered with the aim to re-acquaint Melbourne with its historic environment and vegetation while creating a unique public space for community interaction. Situated on the steps that preface the State Library of Victoria, the Grasslands installation is interwoven into the pre-existing landscape of the place. The artist conducted thorough research of the natural vegetation of the area via old illustrated maps and paintings depicting the foliage in the early days. This content was sourced from the State Library itself.

She collaborated with The University of Melbourne and horticulturist John Delpratt to investigate the biodiversity of the site. The flora thus cultivated attracts butterflies in the natural overlay formed by the Grasslands on the steps of the State Library. The installation Grasslands tries to exist as a collective memory for Melbournians and will be gifted to the Royal Park. Some plants will be given away to residents to plant in their homes as a reminder of their historical roots.

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Grasslands ©www.lindategg.com
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The Grasslands ©www.lindategg.com
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People occupy the park ©www.lindategg.com

6. POP-UP PARK BY HELLO WOOD

As a part of an annual event, the design studio Hello Wood worked with the Municipality of Budapest city to rekindle revelry in a forgotten public space. The design intervention is a temporary solar-powered Pop-Up park that opens into a vibrant summer haven for the residents of the city. Utilizing wood and colorful curvy lines for building outdoor furniture, the park is open for 24 hours. The theme of the park follows a Mediterranean undertone with its olive trees and wave-shaped street furniture.

The park offers free-to-use outdoor exercise equipment for amateurs as well as professionals in the spirit of the World Cup. The resting areas provide a respite from the summer heat while the recreational areas supply a variety of games for the people to play and enjoy. The Hungarian startup Platio provided solar panels to power charging stations where users can charge their devices. The design was meant to be inviting for all factions of society withholding no one from celebrating with the city in this urban square.

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The Pop-Up Park in Budapest ©inhabitat.com
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The Pop-Up Park in Budapest ©inhabitat.com
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The Pop-Up Park in Budapest ©inhabitat.com

7. URBAN BLOOM

Situated on the popular Anfu Road, a street surrounded by offices, schools, restaurants, and residential areas, Urban Bloom tries to deliver a sense of green open space to the people of the area. With cities on a never-ending rut of infrastructural development, especially in Shanghai, it becomes important to resolve the problem of diminishing recreational spaces. Designed by AIM Architecture and Urban Matters, Urban Bloom is a temporary landscape design overlaid on the bustling and monotonous street. Modular recycled wooden crates create an undulating base for the park while transparent globes consisting of green vegetation suspend overhead.

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The usual drab street has been converted into an urban garden that invokes enjoyment from its users. The greenery connects the people to an artificially created natural environment, and the stepped floor makes it resemble organically uneven terrain found in the surroundings. Potted plants fan the periphery of the park, and the layout allows for freedom of movement. The transparent balloons light up at night to create a magical space that can be enjoyed in the middle of the dense city of Shanghai.

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The Urban Bloom Park, Shanghai ©www.archdaily.com
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Transparent globes hold green vegetation ©www.archdaily.com
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The park viewed from above ©www.archdaily.com

8. MOUNTAIN ON THE MOO

MINI and Enorme, two young design firms, worked together to create an innovative portable park. This park not only provides greenery in a barren square in the middle of Madrid but also offers co-working studio space for designers in the city to collectively brainstorm ideas for urban development. This Mini-Hub, also known as Mountain on the Moon, comprises a temporary working space flanked on both sides by stepped gardens which can be wheeled around to create multiple arrangements. The levels can be used as seating. This design enables the residents and people in the city to enjoy a green public space while also inventing novel ideas to benefit the city. The Mini-Hub also makes a point to use Renewable energy sources to provide electricity to users via solar power and kinetic energy.

The design is a response to urbanism and its needs, and the designers have executed the solution simply and creatively.

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The Mini-Hub, Madrid ©www.designboom.com
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The stepped portable seating garden ©www.designboom.com
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Graphical representation of the Mini-Hub and its usage ©archello.com
Author

Kriti Shivagunde is a hopeless list-maker. She makes lists more than she breathes in a day. She writes too much, sings too much, and loves hummus too much. She is passionate about sleeping and helping animals. An architecture student from the unfortunate 2020 graduating batch, she hopes to one day call herself an Architect.

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