Mapping Austin’s urban oddities, and transforming parking spaces

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Mapping Austin’s urban oddities, and transforming parking spaces

Editor’s note: This article was originally published September 18, 2014

Editor’s note: This article was originally published September 18, 2014

What if you eliminated a few metered parking spots, transformed them into little pocket parks, broke up the car-centered urbanscape with a little whimsy and calm and green space?

That’s the inspiration behind “Park(ing) Day” an annual world-wide event that encourges architects, artists and urban advocates to take over a metered parking spot for a day, transform it into something wholly different as means to suggest alternative and playful uses of public space.

This year “Park(ing) Day” is Friday, Sept. 19. And here in Austin, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., two pairs of metered parking spaces on either side of the 300 block of Congress Avenue will be transformed for the day into pop-up pocket parks.

On the East side of Congress Avenue, a parklet in front of Annie’s Café will offer a creative playspace of sorts with games, performers, displays of up-cycled furniture and an interactive art board.

On the West side, in front of the Patagonia sporting gooods store, a pop-up parklet will feature a lounge-like set-up seating and a small library, all surrounded by bamboo.

Check the event’s Facebook page here.

The library lounge parklet will include the Map Exchange Booth run by the local cartographic collective Austin’s Atlas. Spearheaded by artist and architect Ann Armstrong, the Austin’s Atlas project encourages spririted ways to re-discover Austin. Most charming are the maps the collective creates including pedestrian guides that chart walking tours highlighting street art, or, as the most recently released map reveals, urban oddities — strange moments in the urban landscape like a rogue small wall painting on the outside of a building, curious little visual catches that you have to slow down to see.

The Austin Atlas is crowd-sourced project looking for any individually-made maps of Austin. On “Park(ing) Day” Armstrong will give a copy of the new “Urban Oddities” map to anyone offering her their own map. With a person’s permission, the map they draw becomes a part of the crowdsourced Austin’s Atlas. Armstrong willl have paper and pens and a drawing surface to work with on site.

Armstrong’s Map Exchange Booth is a mobile pedestrian-powered cart she crafted out of a hand truck, augmenting it with other forged steel parts and a canvas canopy.

You can read a recent feature story about Armstrong’s multi-faceted practice here: http://shar.es/1afhhJ

The 2012 iteration of “Park(ing) Day” resulted in two metered parking spots in front of the Royal Blue Grocery on the 600 block of Congress Avenue being permanently transformed into a cafe-like pocket park.

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