Several parklets popped up in Cape Town during Creative Week. These temporary public spaces in traditional on-street parking bays make a strong statement for reclaiming the streets from cars and giving them back to people. Lyndall Maunder, owner of popular Central City eatery Clarke’s, tells us why she wanted to put up a parklet on Bree Street.
Where did you first learn about parklets?
I travelled to New York and San Francisco in May this year. While in San Francisco I went to a coffee roastery called Four Barrels and they had a seating area with bike racks that was taking up several parking bays but I didn’t know that it was a parklet. I just thought that they were using public space in a better way. Subsequently I visited several parklets in the city – the home of the parklet – but it was only once I came home that found out what they were.
Why did you decide to do a parklet?
We thought that the space in front of Clarke’s would be great for a parklet. It isn’t actually a parking bay or loading zone but just this dead space that used to be part of the driveway of the bike shop that was here previously.
How did you pull it off?
I was doing website and Twitter posts about parklets and people started to responded to the idea. I chatted to Stan Engelbrecht of Bicycle Portraits for guidance on the design and he put me in touch with Gareth Pearson who in turn introduced me to Councillor Dave Bryant at the City of Cape Town, who facilitated the meeting with Councillor Taki Amira. Yehuda Raff of The Fringe picked-up that we were talking about it on Twitter and he has been doing a lot of work on putting together guidelines and approval processes for parklets so we also met up. After much convincing the City Council allowed us to put a parklet up as a testing ground to see how it works.
Why do you think it is an interesting and relevant initiative?
It is creating a public space where there wasn’t one before. This is not a trading space and it is not exclusive to the restaurant. We can’t do table service there, so if you want to eat you can buy take-aways and take it away to the parklet. It is privately funded – we had a fundraiser and the plants were sponsored by Cape Town City nursery – and we have to maintain it but anyone can use it. It is very much about bringing people out onto the streets. If the test goes well we might get the opportunity to put it up for a longer period from November to March 2013. We want to encourage people to relax and connect in the space.
Who designed and built this parklet?
Gareth and Stan both recommended designer Cameron Barnes, who literally took ten days to design, built and install it. The installation all happened in one day. The whole design can be dismantled again and reused. The original design is quite minimal, so we are actually thinking of bringing in more furniture if we get to reinstall it.
- For more parking off, parking bays and public transport, look out for the October edition of City Views. To find out where to pick up your copy of this monthly community paper, check out these two distribution maps: map 1 and map 2
Photos of the Clarke’s parklet on Bree Street parklet by Lisa Burnell