People Parkers

Design Feature
Type of Project
Placemaking
State
New South Wales
Location
Urban

People Parkers are a collective of Sydney-based architects and entrepreneurs who create products designed to “park people in public spaces”. The collective was formed in 2016 during the evaluation process of Sydney’s first mobile parklet project. This was a community led initiative whereby a series of carparks along a historical high street in Sydney’s Inner West were converted into parklets. 

The parklets aim to keep people local by activating and supporting local high streets, which are struggling across the city due to large, generic shopping centres. 

Streets instead of roads; parking people instead of cars

As president of his local Chamber of Commerce, Kris Spann initiated a parklet trial in Glebe, Sydney in 2015 with the support of the City of Sydney Council and local volunteer expertise. The first trial of its kind in Sydney saw a mobile parklet occupy four locations along historic Glebe Point Road for six months. 

This project informed a comprehensive report by Elise O’Ryan highlighting the successes and challenges that a not-for-profit community group may face when working with council to legally install a parklet in a main street parking space. The recommendations from the report guided the development of two mobile parklets designed and created by the members of People Parkers. 

Parklets can be parked anywhere a car can be! Image © Barton Taylor
Parklets can be parked anywhere a car can be! Image © Barton Taylor

This included fellow People Parkers co-founders and local Sydney architects Alexander Symes and Branko Jaric, who were engaged to design a more cost effective, adaptable and readily mobile parklet for the Glebe community.

 Parklets provide significantly increased opportunities for social interaction on high streets. Image © Barton Taylor
Parklets provide significantly increased opportunities for social interaction on high streets. Image © Barton Taylor

Their resulting trailer parklet design was successfully crowdfunded by the local business and resident community and two prototypes were built in 2016.  Since this time parklets have been deployed in many streets across Sydney, including Kingsford, Surry Hills and Chippendale.

The assets were designed to remain within the legal dimensions of a standard car trailer in order to be registered in NSW.  They occupy one standard car park each and can be joined together to create multiple seating areas as required. The assets can be towed by any size of vehicle and legally set up in any suitable car parking space in Australia (subject to local council parking restrictions and conditions).  

Up to 10 people can be accommodated by each asset and two tables easily fit in each parklet to provide outdoor dining possibilities for hospitality businesses. The heavy-duty stabilizers can be adjusted to match the gradient and incline of specific road conditions and umbrellas provide shade.  

Community engagement is extremely important when implementing parklets on public roads.  It has been critical to meaningfully consult local governments, business owners, residents and authorities to ensure that parklets are met with excitement rather than resentment. 

The People Parkers now hire mobile parklets to events, governments, businesses and food trucks around (NSW) and are developing new products to park more people in a multitude of different public open spaces.

Project team

  • People Parkers
  • Glebe Chamber of Commerce
  • Alexander Symes Architect
  • Local volunteers and friends of People Parkers
  • City of Sydney Council
  • Sydney City Toyota
  • Elise O'Ryan

Project cost

$30,000 (matched in volunteer time and design services by the People Parkers team).

  • $21,500 raised by crowdfunding campaign
  • $3,000 provided by City of Sydney council + $14,000 in-kind parking fee waivers for 12 months
  • $5,500 in administration services provided by Glebe Chamber of Commerce 

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