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Philadelphia Park(ing) Day 2018

On Friday September 21, the JDavis Philly office participated in Parking Day. Parking Day is a one-day event held in cities around the world to bring awareness to the topic of green space in urban areas. Organizations and businesses are given a parking spot which they can transform into a mini, public parklet on the street. The installations are temporary but bring the message to the public about the importance of injecting green space into city landscapes for the benefit of the community.

This was the first year that JDavis joined the event. We enthusiastically started planning back in May, meeting every other week to develop our design. We decided that we wanted to generate a buzz with a park and make it an installation that people would be compelled to share on social media (i.e. Instagramable). CDs immediately came to mind because they are eye-catching and we knew that through collection from the office, we could get a ton of them. We also learned through research about the environmental impact of CDs. CDs are not able to be recycled in regular curbside programs because between the case and the CD, 4 types of plastic are used (#5,6,7 and 1). The CD itself is a laminated construction including polycarbonate which is a difficult plastic to process. Many times, CDs end up in landfills anyway because they cannot be recycled properly. Incidentally, one of the top recommendations for recycling CDs is using them in art projects…

In addition to bringing attention to this issue, we wanted to depict the cycle of our environmental impact. We decided to build a combination of materialism and nature in our park and highlight the sharp contrast we have created through consumerism. The CD structure being bright and shiny, seems to overwhelm the natural elements on the park but nature’s constant presence also reminds us that we have started being more eco-conscious in our production.

We turned to finding precedents that implemented CDs in a creative way and we found ‘Waste Landscape’ by Elise Morin and Clemence Eliard. This massive sculpture in Paris used an impressive 60,000 CDs. The CDs were sewn together and attached to inflatable bubbles. We decided to take this inspiration and scale it down to a small 8’-6” by 19’ parking spot.

From there, we concluded the best way to execute this design was to create a bench that would appear draped in CDs that spilled and bubbled to the ground. Through quite a bit of problem- solving, we devised a makeshift structure of inflatable exercise balls and chicken wire to surround a garden bench. From there we coordinated and cut what would be 12 pieces of landscape fabric on which we would glue our CDs to and drape over the structure. Through two construction days and some time during the week leading up to the event, the team glued around 1,380 CDs to the fabric which we then temporarily attached to our structure so we could make some adjustments before taking it all apart and transporting it down to the street the morning of. We flushed out the rest of the spot with plants that Susanne generously spent the summer growing including two beautiful pallet planter walls which offered a natural contrast to the CDs.

 

Overall, our park proved to be a massive success garnering a lot of positive reviews and prompting numerous questions about the event and our design motivation. We were able to inform the public about what parking day is and why we chose CDs. Many people stopped to take pictures and some people couldn’t believe that it was a functioning bench. At the end of the day, we came away with a Golden Cone Award for having one of the best parks in the city!

Clara Lattimore, Intern Architect