architecture · community · creativity · environment · health · learning · play · youtube

Switzerland Opens its first Parkour Park – YouTube

The sport of Parkour is usually focused on finding your own path in non-planned environments. But having a space designated specifically for exploration is great for both beginners and veterans alike to practice seeing routes and trying new skills.

Traceurs and play advocates all over the world have been trying to start up parkour parks in various cities, so this is really exciting to see another one finally come to fruition after the hard work of local citizens. Well done!

Switzerland finally got their first Parkour park. The past 2 years the team “Parkour Luzern” was planning so hard to realize this project and finally Joel helped them to design and build the park. Jesse, Guilaume and Joel went there for training and now we are proud to put out the first video from this awesome location.

Grandstand Parkour Park

via Free-Z at Switzerland’s first Parkour Park – YouTube.

anthropology · community · culture · environment · play · Social

Happy Park(ing) Day 2013!

Parking Day, Pioneer Square Seattle
Participants of Parking Day setting up a game in Pioneer Square, Seattle. Photo by author.

Today is PARK(ing) Day, “an annual worldwide event where artists, designers and citizens transform metered parking spots into temporary public parks.”

Every year I see some amazing games, maps, and other cool uses of parking spaces set up all over Seattle.

Go out and explore the different parklets!

more via Park(ing) Day 2013 | PARK(ing) Day 2013 is Friday, September 20th.









Side View on Park(ing) Day aktivity by Green C...
Side View on Park(ing) Day aktivity by Green City in Munich. Two Parking spaces were transformed into a small park. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
architecture · community · creativity · culture · design · environment

Designers Stretch Out Imaginations on Park Benches –

Several great scientists, philosophers, and kids alike know the power of a good park bench. Thankfully park designers are learning that too:

That most prosaic of public furnishings, the New York City park bench, has morphed into a blank canvas on which designers, landscape architects and artists have unleashed their fantasies.

Architects and park officials say the trend has gained momentum as the city has reclaimed its waterfront and turned forgotten public nooks into plazas.

park furniture has the power to stop people in their tracks and have them take a seat. Abigail Hansen, a 24-year-old graduate student who lives on the Upper West Side, set out recently to walk along the Hudson River all the way to Chelsea. But she was sidetracked when she happened upon a group of curvaceous chaise longues made from molded fiberglass in Riverside Park South at West 62nd Street near the river. “When I saw these I decided to stop,” said Ms. Hansen, who was flipping through an Italian fashion magazine. “The surface is nice and smooth and the material doesn’t get too hot.”

via Designers Stretch Out Imaginations on Park Benches –

What parks do you visit that have amazing benches? Tell us in the comments below.

community · creativity · design · environment · play · Social

Buses converted to portable public art spaces

After all the great stories about zoos adapting their spaces for their animals I’ve stumbled across recently, I was starting to feel a little sad for us humans. Thankfully, here’s another story I found from Inhabitat about re-purposing spaces for human play:

On the Plaza Luis Cabrera in Mexico City, two 1960’s Mitsubishi trolleybuses have been permanently parked for public use as part of a larger arts initiative in the Roma, Condesa and Hipodromo districts of Mexico City. The gutted and repurposed trolleys currently serve the city as vibrant spaces that engage residents and visitors in new art and cultural activities.

The vintage rides, which were donated to Mexico City by the government of Japan in the year 2000, were originally used to host the Galeria Trolebus initiative — a space used to showcase non-traditional art projects. Today the repurposed busses are public spaces for everyone to enjoy. On weekends and afternoons, visitors may stumble upon sculpture arts, free theater, music workshops, as well as concerts. The cultural activities on the trolleybuses even help to activate adjacent public parks, encouraging locals to take advantage of the ample and free space right before their eyes.

In order to keeps things dynamic, each month the buses on Plaza Luis Cabrera are re-painted in mural styles, with bright colors and bold prints by artists, community members and advertisers who volunteer their talents.

In brilliant fashion, the city has come up with a community-sustaining way to keep an outdated trolleybus model in style and out of the junkyard!

What a great reuse of an item, that is dynamic and allows the public to truly get creative together.
architecture · community · creativity · design · happiness · mental health · Nature

“Pop-up” park to fight the winter blues

Signs of spring are just starting to appear – birds are getting more active, tulips are just starting to show off green shoots – but even in my neck of the woods I know it’ll be awhile before spring is actually here. In New York, one group is fighting the gray and dark with an installed insta-park:

photo courtesy of laughing squid

Welcome to New York City in winter, with a cure for cold-weather blues: a pop-up indoor park in lower Manhattan that’s open through Valentine’s Day.

Despite temperate temperatures so far this year, “it’s our rebellion against winter,” says Jonathan Daou, founder and CEO of Openhouse Gallery, a company that holds a 20-year lease on the space at 201 Mulberry St.

On a recent chilly weekday afternoon, babies played barefoot in the 75-degree world of Park Here while their mothers and fathers sipped tea, eating cookies and sandwiches.

One night, a movie is planned on the lawn; other days bring a ping pong competition, a trivia contest, wine tastings and soccer workshops.

The 5,000-square-foot artificial habitat in the downtown Nolita neighborhood is filled with trees, rocks, picnic benches and the recorded ambient sounds of Central Park in spring. There are giant cushions and even a hammock, plus a baby elephant.

But the park will be gone by mid-February.

The rest of the year, the 200-year-old former police precinct is a stage for business that plays on the “pop-up” retail method mushrooming around the world in recent years: a quick presentation of a product, performance or personality, with no commitment to a lease or contract.

It’s usually set up in a mobile unit that can be assembled and disappear.

Some call it guerrilla retail. “You’re not stuck with a 10-year lease if the product doesn’t sell,” Daou says. “People are looking for novelty, off the beaten path, and this space tests the ‘legs’ of a business concept.”

The space was part of a police precinct in the late 1890s under New York Police Commissioner Theodore Roosevelt, who later became U.S. president.

But there’s nothing historic about what’s going on inside. On the contrary, it’s all the rage in retail.

Read the full article: Winter ‘Pop-Up’ Park Debuts in New York

What a nice way to slough off that winter feeling and take a break and add some fun to your day. What is happening in your area that reminds you of spring?

community · environment · play

It’s PARK(ing) Day!

Park(ing) Day in Indianapolis
Park(ing) Day in Indianapolis. Image by DanO'Connor via Flickr

Today in Seattle, S.F., and other major cities, activists are taking over one or several parking spaces and turning them into parks!

PARK(ing) Day is an annual, worldwide event that invites city dwellers to transform metered parking spots into parks for the day. PARK(ing) Day in Seattle happens to fall on the first day of the [Seattle Design] Festival.

We’ll be partnering with the Seattle Art Museum (SAM) at their impromptu “park.” Drop by and join us in a Festival photo/design activity open to everyone.

SAM will also be offering an all-ages, hands-on artmaking activity; an artist-designed Cornhole game (bean bag toss); and a noon concert by James Whetzel, classically trained on the sarod and tabla.

More via the Seattle Design Festival, which is going on from the 16th until the 25th!   The festival is also pretty relevant since its goal is to explore our environments, how we use them, and how to make them better.

I was able to go see the Seattle exhibit last year, but unfortunately am parked at work today, so go see it and report back. Last year they had lots of games and give aways, and maps featuring the many parks that are scattered around the Seattle metro area.

behavior · environment · Nature · technology

ParksByNature Smart Phone Apps Make State Parks Accessible Like Never Before | Inhabitat

Buffalo appWe hear stories of people getting lost or running into dead end streets because they are too religiously following their GPS or smart phone directions. And I’ve definitely been to dinner a couple of times in groups with one or two people who wouldn’t get off their phone. However, some smart phone apps can be useful and engaging, such as apps that encourage people to get out into nature. Inhabitat offered a write-up of one such app that’s tied into the U.S. park system.

Okay, so the article is totally written as a pitch to sell the app, but why not? This is an actually somewhat useful app that gets people more engaged with nature!

Many of us remember spending summers driving to lakes, hiking with the family and camping in the great outdoors, but some of today’s kids would rather spend some alone time with their iPhones than with Mother Nature. ParksByNature’s apps engage the gaming set with an interactive tour guide called The Pocket Ranger. Available in the free Lite Version or the upgraded Pro Version ($3.99), the app features park information, weather alerts, a social network to share favorite spots and photos in real time, and safety features like Friend Finder and Alert Feature, which helps coordinate rescues if a natural disaster were to strike.

The Pro version has guided tours and hikes with GPS tracking, downloadable detailed maps and best of all, supports the park directly. ParksByNature shares the fee with the parks system and Friends of State Parks, a nonprofit partner.

more via ParksByNature Smart Phone Apps Make State Parks Accessible Like Never Before | Inhabitat – Green Design Will Save the World.

They are also planning to expand to zoos, museums, and other nature experiences.

Now I just wish they’d make one for all us non-iPhone aficionados.

architecture · community · creativity · design

6 Awesome Parks Made From Rehabilitated Urban Structures | Inhabitat

It’s starting to be State Fair time around the U.S., so what better time to talk about interesting parks, particularly those made from rehabbed structures?

Over the past few years we’ve seen some very creative minds transform urban ruins into spectacular parks for us to enjoy. If you can brave an abandoned nuclear plant turned into an amusement park, head to Germany – or see how old train tracks can be transformed into beautiful and fun parks in New York City and Lima.

see all of the 6 Awesome Parks Made From Rehabilitated Urban Structures | Inhabitat – Green Design Will Save the World.

environment · Nature

Last Tourist in the Woods – Health and Financial Benefits of Outdoor Tourism | LandLopers

I’m dreaming of warm sandy beaches, or high mountain meadows, and realized it’s been awhile since I’ve gone on a good, solid, outdoors-focused vacation. Apparently I’m not the only one. From the magazine Landlopers, introduced to me by the non-profit environment-and-culture group Izilwane

For more than a decade, visitation numbers at America’s National Parks have been dropping steadily. At first glance, the numbers are encouraging, around 280 million visitations in 2010. Impressive until you peel back the numbers and realize that this includes everything from people driving along the Blue Ridge Parkway to the annual Cherry Blossom Festival attendees. The actual number of people who hike, boat, fish or paddle is much lower, and that number is not increasing.I’m not sure for the drop in numbers, but it’s disheartening. I’m just as guilty as anyone about not visiting our common inheritance nearly as often as I should.

Night sky while camping from Landlopers

more via Last Tourist in the Woods – Health and Financial Benefits of Outdoor Tourism | LandLopers.

More and more people are discovering the importance of interacting with the outdoors, even in small doses like walking down a tree-line street. And now, the one plus-side of our current Federal and State funding in a crisis is that a lot of national and state parks are offering deals to entice visitors; so aside from supporting your parks and the economy, it’s a good time to think about vacationing in the great outdoors.

community · environment · Nature

Reclaiming urban space for community use

The recently restored Seward Park Inn, Seward ...
The recently restored Seward Park Inn, Seattle, WA. Image via Wikipedia

I love hearing about citizens taking the initiative to clean up parks, fix up land, and give places names as a sign of ownership for the land, not as in a “I OWN YOU” kind of ownership, but a “I am responsible for you” kind of way.

A group of park-lovers in Seattle took it upon themselves to clean up Seward Park and give the different trails and landmark names.

Knute Berger of blog Crosscut writes that he and a bunch of his friends “floated the idea of naming many of citys unnamed features, including alleys, street ends, trails, and other urban features that are yet unnamed on maps.

“There are many reasons to do this. One is reclaiming urban spaces, like alley ways; another is recognizing more than a centurys worth of life and accomplishment of Seattleites in the years since the streets were named. Yet another is to take the opportunity to include more indigenous names for natural and city features.

“A naming project is currently underway at Seward …”

more via The Crosscut Blog.