Realexperiment: Parklets Für Stuttgart
Parklets are small urban interventions on parking lots that show the forgotten potential of the sealed and parked streets as liveable urban places. With these small urban acupunctures, studioUBK introduced the concept of parklets to Germany, built the very first parklet in Stuttgart and triggered a political debate on the topic of mobility and the democratic use of public space.
The project questions the privileged role of the car and promotes a paradigm shift in Stuttgart's mobility culture, in the perception and use of street space. Parklets invite neighbours, passers-by, local businesses and their customers to interact by offering them outdoor meeting points. By providing a buffer zone between traffic lanes and the sidewalk, they create a safe and playful environment for children. The parklets have proven to succeed in balancing the needs of pedestrians and cyclists by providing sitting opportunities and bike stands, which are missing in the sealed streets of the car-friendly city.
The goal of the experiment was not only to promote sustainable mobility and the potential of streets as liveable public spaces, but also to generate in-depth knowledge about parklets as a tool for urban transformation. That is why, together with the students, we carried out the research by analysing the street sections, and the functional and socio-spatial context of each parklet. We also conducted field studies à la Jan Gehl, observing the use of the parklets, and the change of the pedestrian, cyclists' and car flows, we interviewed the partners on site and gathered feedback about the design, site and the idea in general.
The results of this research and the entire project-related experiences were summarised in a 200 pages report, with recommendations for the city administration and communal politics. Further, we created a short manual "How to Parklet" for citizens and future activists with a step-by-step plan on how to realise a parklet on their own. Today, in Stuttgart, parklets are still a thing.