Since 2008, “the number of parks throughout Philadelphia increases dramatically each year on the third Friday in September, when activists, artists, architects, and other citizens transform metered parking spaces into temporary public parks. Known as PARK(ing) Day, this annual event re-imagines the possibilities of 160 square feet of public space. The event celebrates parks and other public spaces in cities across the country, and raises awareness of the need for more pedestrian-friendly spaces in our urban areas.” (from the Parking Day Philadelphia website)
In 2018, Playful Learning Landscapes (PLL) was introduced to PARK(ing) Day Philadelphia by the Community Design Collaborative (Collaborative), who partners with the Center for Architecture and Design, the host of the initiative. Together, PLL and the Collaborative brought something new to the annual event – a “Playful Learning” theme. PLL advised several PARK(ing) Day teams while also working directly with the Collaborative’s team of designers to incorporate opportunities for playful learning into their parklet designs. PLL worked with the Collaborative designers and children from a local recreation center to create a customizable game board that allows kids to invent their own games that advance literacy and mathematical skills. In 2019, PPL again worked with the Collaborative and children from another recreation center to create a parklet that included honeycomb screens that could be configured in multiple ways to create spaces that provide opportunities for performances, reading nook activities, and social interaction.
In both years, the playful learning parklets were presented to the public on Park(ing) Day during which passersby were able to see, engage with, and discuss the designs. After both days, the PPL/Collaborative parklets were relocated permanently to the rec centers, while several of the other playful learning parklets were installed in other communities throughout Philadelphia.