Playland at 43rd – A Brand New SF Park(ing) Lot Playspace

Neighbors, designers, and families teamed to create a low-cost, low-intervention flexible play and gathering space in what was formerly a very large asphalt-paved school parking lot in San Francisco’s Sunset District. 

Even on a wet, cloudy day, these photos clearly show the effort made to create a bright, colorful, welcoming space. Overhead nylon paracord delineates a pingpong table and outdoor seating, and colorful painted murals break up the asphalt surfacing. 

A newly built plot of raised beds freshly planted with greens frames the new skate park, in the back, with the magenta spires of two climbable “San Francisco Hills” donated by participants in last year’s Market Street Prototyping Festival. 

Students displaying their prototypes for a better urban future at the Stanford Global Cities 2016 Conference. Top: WePlay piezoelectric urban playgrounds; Bottom Left: Composting toilets for cities like SF that sorely lack access; Bottom Right: ArtsUp, pop-up performing arts events in unconventional or free venues. 

Play in the Garden: Park(ING) Day 2015


Photo via Kerri Stimson // Yoga Garden SF

Park(ING) Day 2015 took place this past Friday, September 2015. In cities across the world, creative thinkers took part in this DIY celebration of rethinking public space. Park(ING) Day was originally dreamed up by local design collective REBAR back in 2005, when they created a “temporary public park” by rolling out a piece of astroturf and a couple chairs in a metered parking space in downtown San Francisco. 


Today, Park(ING) Day has become a global event where citizens, artists, designers, and activists collaborate to temporarily transform a metered streetside parking space into a fun and enjoyable public space, helping neighbors and cities re-imagine how we allocate space in urban environments.  


Every year, I’m inspired by the fun takes on Park(ING) Day around the city, so this year I decided it was time to participate. I teamed with yoga studio Yoga Garden SF and coffeeshop Repose Coffee to create a fun, temporary relaxation and play space on the busy Divisadero corridor in San Francisco. We invited neighbors to “Come Play in the Garden”. 


Photo by Kerri Stimson // Yoga Garden SF

For three hours, a boring old metered parking space was transformed into a sunny, welcoming, space for conversation over a cup of coffee and playful yoga poses. 


Friends, alumni, and teachers at Yoga Garden stopped by to teach students and passersby a few poses, including Boxing Yoga (above). 


Drivers were surprised to see people doing acrobatic poses as they sat stopped at the traffic light. 


Photo by Joy Liu Yoga

The novelty of the space and the location really inspired people to have fun with it. The unexpected nature of parklets, Park(ING) Day, and urban interventions allows people to see space in a different way. Its amazing how simply putting down a couple rugs, benches, and potted houseplants (which took all of ten minutes), completely changed the vibe and the use of the 17 foot space. 


Yoga Garden owner Marisa stopped in to perfect her headstand. 


Photo via Joy Liu Yoga

The sunny weather inspired visitors to get creative with their postures. 


We made sure to pay for our “space rental” at the parking meter. 


Photo via Kerri Stimson // Yoga Garden SFAgainst my expectations, no one complained about our fun temporary parklet, and in fact we had plenty of interested passersby asking about the initiative. My favorite visit of the day was the SFMTA parking control officer in his little 3-wheeled cart who stopped by to chat. I was concerned that he would ask us to move, but he had heard about Park(ING) Day already and was just stopping by to say hi and check it out. Check out other parklets from around the world from this year’s event here. 

LAdventures – breakfast in Venice, maple rosemary bacon with kale , triple cream and poachies, decor at Smoke Oil + Salt, crystal and whalebone decor, Watts Towers, lowrider, new custom shelving with maple and iron, cityscapes.

Los Angeles Adventuring with Foraging Fork –Venice Beach, Melrose Flea, upcycled fashion, textiles galore, Heath Ceramics lighting at Superba, bike rack outside G.I.A.

New parklet outside of Devils’ Teeth Baking Company three blocks from Ocean Beach – within minutes of taking this photo, a fire truck pulled up and soon the parklet was filled with firemen drinking coffee and moms with kids enjoying a snack. 

Check out my recent piece on parklets (ignore the icky interface and load time and focus on my photos and content, if you can!) in SF. Found out from the Planning Dept that there are dozens and dozens of interested businesses, groups, and individuals on the waiting list!

While some are clearly better designed and more popular than others, isn’t it fun just to see a different use for public space? It will be interesting to see where this program goes in the next several years. And hey, who hasn’t noticed that there’s nowhere to sit in the city anymore?