Transforming a formerly vehicle-dominated public space into a pedestrian and bike-friendly leisure park.

The Hackney ‘Parklet’

date Opened Friday 3rd July

This intervention converts an under-utilised street space into a place for the public to enjoy. It is an extension of the pavement for more public gathering spaces to support community cohesion. Hackney Parklet allows people to read, eat, relax, people-watch and secure their bikes in an area that lacks in seating and cycle parking. Parklets are installed as semi-permanent urban spaces. They can be disassembled to be transported to other locations. After 20 days being situated on Pitfield Street, the parklet was moved to a new location in Hackney as Pitfield Street undergoes a transformation to become part of the Cycle Superhighway 1. At its original location, the parklet was adjacent to a wide pavement outside a new cafe and amongst a busy cycle route, bordered by shops on one side, flats on the other and a zebra crossing nearby.

The project was funded from £5000 by environmental charity Sustrans, Hackney Council and Cyclehoop, a cycling infrastructure design firm. This covers installation and also monitoring of how the parklet is used in order to evaluate its success. The parklet occupies a 2.6m by 8m space, previously a loading bay, and contains 3 bike stands, a decking area with benches and planters full of grasses and herbs. Solar-powered lighting has been installed in the floor for safety. Integrating hints of nature emphasises cleaner and greener streets. Residents can be inspired to be active and healthy by the parklet. Moreover, it is hoped that the parklet will help local businesses by improving the look and atmosphere of the area. Overall, the parklet offers pedestrians a place to rest and socialise, factors that help make a city experience enjoyable.

Hackney’s parklet is the first to be installed in the U.K. It has positively influenced other parklets to develop in places such as Ealing and by London Bridge. During the parklet’s trial period, the majority of people using the parklet chose to stand around its tables to socialise.

Parklets are designed to change the way we think about public space and promote the creation of green sanctuaries in urban environments. Local communities in San Francisco began this parklet initiative in 2005 with a PARK(ing) day where any one could create a parklet for a day. The success of PARK(ing) day led to city planners across the world to adopt this idea on a more permanent basis. Consequently, platforms such as ‘People St’ in the U.S. have launched to facilitate and expand this process for local communities.

Image: Cyclehoop (pending permission)