In conjunction with a seminar about green retrofits, the architecture firm Tengbom transformed a parking space on Katarinavägen in Stockholm into a public meeting place. The project is an important example of climate-smart uses for our urban environment. The conversion of parking spaces to community nodes with ecosystem services may be closer than we think.
At a seminar last week, Tengbom talked about green retrofits – strategies for refurbishing grey infrastructure into green infrastructure and what this can mean for public space. Combining goals for sustainable stormwater management, the creation of public space, and high biodiversity can generate pleasant meeting places along our streets and add ecosystem services to our cities. Stormwater that would otherwise be released into ageing sewers combined with vegetation means new habitats for people, birds, and insects. Green retrofits integrate social aspects with ecological aspects – and the city stands to gain financially.
Sweden has fallen behind when it comes to this type of sustainable thinking. We feel that micro parks such as this are easily adaptable to the city of Stockholm and we would be happy to implement more pilot projects, says Fredrik Legeby, Urban Planner at Tengbom.
There are several reasons why our street environments may soon change. Attitudes and habits related to car use are shifting, as seen in the increase of bike and car share systems and car-to-go services. Meanwhile, technical development towards smaller, self-driving cars is making fast progress. Fewer and smaller vehicles will shrink transport requirements for our cities which will in turn reduce the need for parking spaces.
Many people are currently unaware that a large portion of Stockholm still has a combined sewer system--which means wastewater is released directly into Lake Mälaren during periods of heavy rain. Tengbom’s parklet will, as far as I know, be the first in the world to demonstrate how stormwater management can be integrated into these small spaces, says Shira Jacobs, Landscape Architect at Tengbom.
A parklet is a temporary or permanent sidewalk extension that provides more space and amenities for people using the street. Parklets are usually installed on parking lanes and use one or more parking spaces. Launched in San Francisco, California, in 2010, the phenomenon has now spread all over the world. Following San Francisco’s lead, several cities have produced parklet manuals that streamline the application and permitting process.
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