- Category: Social studies
- Published on Monday, 15 September 2014 20:33
Note: a version of this post was originally placed on Spacing Vancouver (http://spacing.ca/vancouver/2014/09/15/pop-parks-surrey-central-goes-gingham/)
Part installation, part park at the centre of Surrey
It's over now, but during the summer temporary parks are popping up all over the place! Cities across North America, and perhaps further afield, are creating temporary spaces for citizens to sit.
In Surrey there have been temporary parks installed at Surrey Central since 2012. This year the installation was called Gingham Style. It was designed by Liz Nguyen and Mike Wartman, and won a competition created by the City of Surrey (http://www.surrey.ca/culture-recreation/13125.aspx).
Cleverly incorporating a delightful red-and-white checked pattern over stools and two long tables, Gingham Style added a bit of whimsy and homey 1950s-era chic to a busy corner of asphalt, concrete and bustling crowds of people. We can imagine Rosie the Riveter (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rosie_the_Riveter) stopping by for a few minutes before heading home.
In parts of the United States pop-up parks are created to provide activities for at-risk youth. Minneapolis set up tents, food and games that moved from area to area (http://lin.ca/success-stories/pop-parks-positive-programs-help-risk-youth-minneapolis).
Surrey's goals are a little more modest. The program is called PARKit (http://www.surrey.ca/culture-recreation/10971.aspx) and aspires to create "a warm and inviting social space that will encourage social interaction and outdoor dining". Passing through this area every day I haven't seen too many people dining. Most people seem to be waiting for someone, but occasionally a group of people can be spotted chatting, laughing or otherwise being social.
Gingham Style is directly under the Skytrain at Surrey Central. This is one of the Expo Line's busier stations, with over 12,000 boardings and 19,000 alightings on a typical Fall day – in 2011. I'd hazard a guess it has to be more now. Directly beside is the busy bus loop, where line-ups can easily stretch a block or two during rush hour. I kid you not. Further down the path (past the begging musicians and 'artists') is SFU Surrey and Central City, which older people like me still occasionally call Surrey Place. In the other direction is the North Surrey Recreation Centre, the central library and the new City Hall. It's a busy place!
Another popular item this summer has been colourfully painted pianos plunked down in public areas. The original designs don't show it, but Gingham Style had one right next to it, painted a cheerful yellow. There always seemed to be someone sitting at it picking out a tune.