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The Creative Issue – News for Creatives | September 28, 2021

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On Friday we chased a PARK

Ratu Lewis

Scarecrow and cabbabge patchOn Friday (24 September) was PARK(ing) Day and we managed to make it to Baxter Street, Fortitude Valley where architecture and design firm, Deicke Richards converted their car park into a little green sanctuary in their urban space and boy were we impressed! Walking down Baxter Street we weren’t expecting to see a mini farm; complete with hay bales, cabbage patch, scarecrow, orange trees, and CHICKENS!

For those if you who don’t know about PARK(ing) Day or where it originated from it is an annual open-source global event that was by Rebar, a San Francisco art and design studio. In 2005 they converted a single metered parking space into a temporary public park and now citizens, artists and activists collaborate to temporarily transform metered parking spaces into “PARK(ing)” spaces around the world.

We talked to John Deicke, Director of Deicke Richards, about playing their part in the worldwide recognised day.

CD: Is it just your firm here today?

JOHN DIECKE: We actually do it with Dig it, so they’re a landscape business next door. And then we also had some sponsors, so some nurseries donate plants to us for the day. This year it’s the year of the farm…the farmer, so we’ve actually got some market gardeners who have donated some produce. So we’ve created like a little market garden here. We got some local produce for sale as well, so again trying to bring the farm into the city.

CD: How many years have you done this?

JOHN DIECKE: I think this is our 5th year.

CD: Is it getting bigger and better?

JOHN DIECKE: Well yeah, I think it is. Certainly last year was bigger across the city. I’m not sure how big it is this year. But we’re really, sort of, enthusiastic about; like I think the third year we did it, we actually pulled up our car park. So we’ve actually dug up our car park and planted grass and put down a more permeable parking surface and those sorts of things. So embracing the ideas of PARK(ing) Day in a permanent way.

CD: How many people usually come through?

JOHN DIECKE: We would probably have about 100 people come through during the day. So we invite our clients through to have a look, so we got about 25 staff and we probably have 30 or 40 clients come along and then just the visitors who just come along, so another 20 or 30 come along and have a look each PARK(ing) Day, which is really great.

CD: Do you know much about the history of PARK(ing) Day?

JOHN DIECKE: I know it started in the states and I think Australia started pretty much a year or two after it started in the States. And I think for us to sort of embrace it and get it going so quickly after the States is a really good thing. And of course it’s all across Australia now. You know. They do it in Sydney, Melbourne; not sure about the other capital cities. But it’s a great way to sort of bring a little but more green into the city, which is fantastic.

CD: Is that the message you want to communicate?

JOHN DIECKE: We’re architects and landscape architects and urban designers…..and planners. It’s very important for us to actually not only talk about these things and do them but to actually bring them into our work place, So to actually ‘green’ up. So our next step for the office is to try and get even more…so even less car parking and more greenery in front of our building.

CD: Do you think there needs to be an emphasis on sustainability in the creative world?

JOHN DIECKE: Absolutely. That’s why we actually worked with our landscape contractor. Sometimes urban art projects actually provide things for the day as in bicycle stands and those sorts of things. We haven’t actually got into sort of art installations and such yet, but it’s certainly one way it could go and that would be fantastic

CD: Is it only you guys that do the Valley area?

JOHN DIECKE: No, look I don’t know who else is doing it this year. They’re dotted all over the city. Anyone can do it as long as you have…and some people don’t even do a parking space like inside a building. Some of them just take a couple parking spaces on the road outside their office and turn them into a really mini little park.

CD: So if someone wanted to do this next year, how would they go about doing it?

JOHN DIECKE: There’s a website. PARK(ing) Day actually has a website and you basically just register on the website. What you’re doing then goes on the website, you go onto the map so people can find out where you are and come and visit you and do a tour around.  I suppose us having a parking day stops us from actually getting around and seeing all the other parks, which is a bit of a shame. They publish photographs of all the PARK(ing) Days after it, which is really great cause you get to see what other people do. There’s always a challenge to always go a little step further and a little bigger.

CD: Yeah, I wasn’t expecting it to be so big.

JOHN DIECKE : We’re very fortunate, we actually have a nice big space and to turn that into a landscape space is really great, so we’re really lucky to have that. So the impact of this is to be a lot more dramatic than if we only had a couple of car spaces.

We hope that you guys were able to go PARK(ing) on Friday and might accept the challenge to create an urban open space next year!