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culture

Designers Turn a Parking Space Into a Park

For the first Torontonian edition of (Park)ing Day, a team of designers creatively repurposed a parking space. They fed the meter, of course.

A park unlike any other at Queen and Soho Streets. Photo by Corbin Smith/Torontoist

The corner of Queen and Soho Streets looked a little different on Friday. What is usually a parking space had been turned into a makeshift park, complete with a spot to sit down and, interestingly, a balloon canopy.

The project was part of (Park)ing Day, an event where people in cities around the world put money into parking meters and then, using the time they’ve paid for, turn parking spaces into temporary public parks. While (Park)ing Day has been taking place in various places around the world since the event started in San Fransico back in 2005, this was the first time a group from Toronto got involved. The local installation, entitled “Park Yourself Here,” was spearheaded by local designers Andrew Chiu, Timothy Mitanidis, and Marek Rudzinski.

“I started reading [the (Park)ing Day] website on and off and on, and decided to do it myself,” he said.

Park Yourself Here provided a chair for you to do exactly that. Photo by Corbin Smith/Torontoist

Chiu said that even though this is the first (Park)ing Day–affiliated event in Toronto, he’s by no means the first person in the city to try to turn a parking spot into a miniature-sized public square. There have been similar efforts by P.S. Kensington. That said, he and the rest of his team have backgrounds in design, which means their interpretation of the word “park” was a little different from the usual.

“We tried to use our backgrounds and basically build a pavilion,” he said. “The design is a mirrored box, and the underside of the mirrored box is cut out in the profile of a car. When you pass it, you watch the disappearing of the car.”

Over the course of the day about 300 passersby stopped to sit down, examine the structure, take pictures, and ask questions. Chiu said the project was initially met with skepticism by some pedestrians.

Inside the makeshift park. Photo by Corbin Smith/Torontoist

“People are used to people trying to sell something on Queen West, so some people were like, ‘What are these guys trying to sell me?’” said Chiu.

Members of the public were invited to decorate the balloons that made up the canopy. At the end of the day, the balloons—and the messages that had been scrawled on them—were released.

“One person took a yellow balloon and wrote it up like a parking ticket,” he said. “People wrote birthday messages, and kids just drew whatever they wanted.”

Chiu hopes that his installation got at least a few people to think about the amount of space we dedicate to cars, and the other ways in which that space could be used.

“If you take away a car, which is serving no one, because it’s parked and empty, then that space can be used to serve hundreds of people,” he said.

CORRECTION: September 25, 10:10 AM The display was spearheaded by three local designers, Andrew Chiu, Timothy Mitanidis, and Marek Rudzinski, not just Andrew Chiu, as previously stated. The correction has been made above.

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