In a bold bid to change its urban landscape for good, Brazil’s biggest city has given a green light to citizen proposals to transform car parking spots into perpetual park spaces.
Cities around the world have sanctioned micro-parks on a limited basis (often for temporary use during environmental days and green festivals), but this legislation makes the provision a permanent mandate for São Paulo. The law comes with style and usage guides but a broad mandate, allowing for a potentially huge variety of programmatic functions starting with but not limited to open seating and leisure space.
Other possibilities include: small commercial vendors under tents or in shipping containers, public pools and restrooms, recycling receptacle centres and bike sharing racks. The argument, in part, is that the public gains a great deal of additional benefit from open space, which can be shared, over parking spaces that are used only by a few individuals at a time (and even then indirectly).
Suzi Bolognese of SB Design Studio summarizes the shift: “The parklets programme fits in perfectly with São Paulo’s attempts to promote a friendlier pedestrian environment, and involves replacing a parking space or two with a new public area. Parklets can incorporate benches, chairs, tables, trees, and bike racks for the public to use and enjoy. São Paulo has loved parklets so much it has integrated them into city planning policy. Now as a result of Decree No. 55,405, São Paulo has rules for the creation and maintenance of parklets, the first Latin American public policy on the issue.”