Change search
ReferencesLink to record
Permanent link

Direct link
Revisiting the San Francisco Parklets: Problematizing Publicness, Parks, and Transferability
KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Urban Planning and Environment, Urban and Regional Studies.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-0177-481X
2015 (English)In: Urban Forestry & Urban Greening, ISSN 1618-8667, E-ISSN 1610-8167, ISSN ISSN 1618-8667, Vol. 15, 165-173 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

One day in 2005, a bench, some grass, and a tree suddenly appeared on a parking spot in central SanFrancisco. The parking meter was paid for two hours, and after that the installation disappeared. Thisaction by the art-design-activist organization Rebar has led to the annual global event Park(ing) Day andan official planning program in San Francisco, From Pavements to Parks, inspiring cities around the worldto introduce their own parklet projects.Many cities are facing challenges such as economic deficits and a lack of open public spaces, and growingconcerns exist regarding the need for urban greenery. This paper discusses how parklets are challengingthe role of public spaces and urban nature, drawing on discussions and conceptualizations of publicness,observational data, literature review, and document analysis to explore the influence of parklets as anurban design strategy at a local and global level.The symbolic change from parking space to public park space and the tactical urbanism inspiration ofthe concept constitute both parts of the symbolic value of parklets. At the same time, the line betweencommunity activism and urban strategy has been blurred. The city reviews, permits, and inspects theprojects; and the sponsor is responsible for the design, financing, maintenance, and liability. The paperconcludes that, even though parklets might provide a new public space and bring greenery to streetscapes,publicness, roles and responsibility, as well as the functionality of nature in these projects, remain crucialquestions.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Elsevier, 2015. Vol. 15, 165-173 p.
National Category
Social and Economic Geography
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-185771DOI: 10.1016/j.ufug.2015.12.010ScopusID: 2-s2.0-84957105848OAI: diva2:923689

QC 20160502

Available from: 2016-04-27 Created: 2016-04-27 Last updated: 2016-05-18Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Planning Practices of Greening: Challenges for Public Urban Green Space
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Planning Practices of Greening: Challenges for Public Urban Green Space
2016 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Public urban green spaces are crucial parts of cities due to the many connections existing between urban greenery and well-being. Additionally, public urban green space represents a wide range of spatial concepts, such as parks, urban forests, commons, in-between-spaces, and gardens. This study explores challenges for contemporary public urban green space in an increasingly urban world, with high demands on urban growth, and simultaneously the need for more sustainable societies and cities. The aim is to problematize the complex reality for contemporary public urban green space from an urban planning perspective in times of urban densification strategies, global competitiveness between cities and trends of ‘re-naturing’.


The scope of this thesis is based on four high profile case studies. The Green Walkable City in Stockholm and The Green Living Spaces in Birmingham constitute planning strategies with a holistic approach to urban green space, including a strong focus on well-being. The High Line in New York and Parklets in San Francisco represent urban green space concepts, influential both at the local level and in the larger urban planning debate. The results point to a need to acknowledge the complexity inherent to urban green space provision, design, and management. This study contributes with insights of direct connections between narratives of nature, materialized urban greenery projects and conceptualizations of functionality of nature in urban planning projects. From the post-industrial, pristine flirting, crafted wilderness of the High Line; a symbolic but cosmetic scrambling with planters and narratives of parks of parklets; dualistic argumentations of natural values connected to quality over quantity of nature in a densifying and growing Stockholm; to pragmatic yet emotional and ambitious conceptualizations of human nature in biohilic urbanism and green space planning in Birmingham. Gentrification, publicness and production of public space and densification strategies are central themes in urban studies – and public urban green space can play an active role in these processes.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: KTH Royal Institute of Technology, 2016
TRITA-SOM, ISSN 1653-6126 ; 09
public urban green space; public space; ecological gentrification; green city branding; urban densification; green cities; biophilic cities
National Category
Civil Engineering
Research subject
Planning and Decision Analysis
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-187055 (URN)978-91-7729-012-4 (ISBN)
Public defence
2016-06-14, F3, Lindstedtsvägen 26, Stockholm, 09:30 (English)

QC 20160518

Available from: 2016-05-18 Created: 2016-05-16 Last updated: 2016-07-08Bibliographically approved

Open Access in DiVA

No full text

Other links

Publisher's full textScopus

Search in DiVA

By author/editor
Littke, Helene
By organisation
Urban and Regional Studies
In the same journal
Urban Forestry & Urban Greening
Social and Economic Geography

Search outside of DiVA

GoogleGoogle Scholar
The number of downloads is the sum of all downloads of full texts. It may include eg previous versions that are now no longer available

Altmetric score

Total: 10 hits
ReferencesLink to record
Permanent link

Direct link