Parklet: A New Urban Platform for Emergent Forms of Communication and Social Interaction in the Cities


  • Mona Ghandi Department of Architecture, Washington State University, United States



Social interaction is critical to the physical and intellectual well-being of a functioning democracy. The excessive influence of technology and lack of urban design and planning’s attention to pedestrian experience has caused our interactions to become more private, isolated, and mostly virtual. The following project presents the product of a design-build studio which uses adaptive/Kinetic systems to generate a creative solution to this social problem. Specifically, it will showcase the efforts of students working on a Parklet project, repurposing urban space to advance local business ethics and social justice issues. The Parklet replaces a parking space, fostering increases in social connections, public vibrancy, and support for local businesses. To move beyond schematic design, and offer students an experiment in real-world design issues, this studio provided a hands-on atmosphere for collaborative and consensus design experience, learning-by-doing, detailing challenges, and offsite construction strategies. It was structured to promote lessons in collaboration, construction detailing and process, and adaptive design, including working with city officials to meet code and zoning regulations. Since the project’s site is located in a neighboring city, students prefabricated the pieces in school and shipped and assembled them on site in one day. The studio sought to promote CAAD education, teaching design, and construction, but also innovation and entrepreneurship, through computational technology. The pedagogical framework was defined around various considerations such as structural, functional, financial, aesthetical, technological, and collaboration with other disciplines such as structural engineering and construction management