What if communities formed new parks when they needed them? What if these parks could be formed by swarms of bicycles? If that sounds like something out of a sci-fi novel, get ready because landscape architect John Bela, ASLA, at Rebar and artist Tim Wolfer at N55 have created Parkcycle Swarm. While this concept has been explored in a few locations in Europe, the team just created four small mobile parks for the Participate public arts festival in Baku, Azerbaijan.
In DesignBoom, they write Parkcycle Swarm “explores the possibilities of the public sculpture, while at the same time raising awareness of cycle-power and green space through a participatory activity.”
San Francisco-based urban design and public art firm Rebar first tested the Parkcycle concept for one of its famed Park(ing) Days. They describe the system as a “human-powered open space distribution system designed for agile movement within the existing auto-centric urban infrastructure.” In their lingo, “Parkcycle effectively re-programs the urban hardscape by delivering massive quantities of green open space—up to 4,320 square-foot-minutes of park per stop—thus temporarily reframing the right-of-way as green space, not just a car space.”
Here’s one instance of the concept in Copenhagen, Denmark:
N55, a Copenhagen-based public art group, sees each unit as modules in a broader system.”The Parkcycle Swarm can be seen as a DIY urban planning tool that is as an alternative to the top down urban planning that dominates most cities in the world. N55 encourage persons to build their own cycles and form swarms and hereby influence their local urban environments.” They even propose certain “formations” for traveling.
According to N55, each bike-park can be designed to fit with local bicycle standards. In their open-source manual, they show how to create one to comply with EU bicycle design standards. They encourage bike-parkers to create their own local standards, too.
These types of DIY urban planning and landscape architecture projects appear to be coalescing into a nascent movement. A number of urban design, landscape architecture, and public art organizations are exploring bottom-up concepts. Together, these experiments are being called a range of isms, including DIY Urbanism, User-generated Urbanism, Flexible Urbanism, or Adaptive Urbanism (one non-ism variation is Iterative Placemaking). Clearly, this is just the beginning, and these designers will foment more creative experiments yet.
To explore this world further, check out an upcoming 3-day conference organized by University of California, Berkeley and Rebar called Adaptive Metropolis, September 27-29.
Image credits: (1-2) Parkcycle / Yarat, via DesignBoom (3-8) Parkcycle Swarm / N55