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      /  Uncategorized   /  Park(ing) Day 2022

    Park(ing) Day 2022

    Nashville’s Park(ing) Day has come and gone, a 6:30am set up disassembled less than 12 hours later for a brief view of what it would be like if the metered parking in Downtown Nashville were to be used for small installations or parklets for residents and tourists alike to enjoy year round.

    What is Park(ing) Day?

    As defined by the official Park(ing) Day website: it’s a “global, public, participatory project where people across the world temporarily repurpose curbside parking spaces and convert them into public parks and social spaces to advocate for safer, greener, and more equitable streets for people.

    Housing as a Public Right

    The overarching idea of Park(ing) Day does not have a theme. It’s usually up to the participants to create a parklet installation of their choice in a single parking space, however, based on critical issues happening in Nashville, the Nashville Civic Design Center created a theme for the 2022 Park(ing) Day: Housing as a Public Right.

    Lack of housing affordability and homelessness are Nashville’s biggest life-threatening issues right now. 194 homeless Nashvillians died in 2021—the highest ever recorded in the city. There are dozens of local organizations and service providers that are working towards supporting unhoused residents with food, shelter, and other resources. There are politicians, commissions, and research teams that are working towards policy recommendations, funding, and built infrastructure that support the much needed changes to eradicate homelessness. Design can demonstrate how these groups can work collectively to provide a route to better quality of life for those experiencing homelessness.”

    Nashville’s 2022 Park(ing) Day activities took place on 2nd Avenue in Downtown Nashville


    As one of the Metropolitan Development and Housing Agency (MDHA)’s missions is creating affordable housing opportunities, they created three prompts for this year’s theme. One of these prompts was picked up by our Park(ing) Day team at Smith Gee Studio as inspiration for our parklet.

    “The redevelopment of Cayce has truly made a difference in the city, specifically in east Nashville. A mixed-use, mixed-income community, the Master Plan calls for more than 2,000 units and ensures a one-for-one replacement of all existing subsidized/affordable units, which were built in the 1940s and 1950s, while adding NEW subsidized/affordable, workforce and market-rate units. So far, MDHA has completed 507 new units and six new developments. All of the developments are unique so that they blend in with the rest of East Nashville. Also, all of the apartment amenities are the same, regardless of one’s income. Demonstrate the importance of equity in architectural and interior design features of a mixed-income development.”

    Our Installation

    Over the course of about five in-office meetings, three build days, and a four-hour installation process, we created our Park(ing) Day installation.

    Based on the silhouette of our first Envision Cayce architecture project, Kirkpatrick Park, the structure measured at a sturdy ten feet tall at its peaks and spanned the entire length of the parking spot. We had a lot we wanted to incorporate into our project, ranging from using zoning signs as roofing to three interactive elements for any passersby to participate with.

    Our biggest statistic we wanted to highlight was the fact that in the past ten years, 93% of the apartments/non-single family housing has been considered luxury. Meaning only 7% of these units could be considered affordable (aka 30% or less of an individual’s income.) This was emphasized by being placed in the center of the installation, but also by spray painting our roof so that 1.5 signs represented the 7% compared to the full roof.

    For our interactive elements, we had two streamer surveys and a post-it note board. For the post-it notes, we asked passersby to write down why affordable housing was important to them. For the streamers, we wanted a visual representation of what different demographics found important and had access to. On one side of the installation, we asked age groups if they had immediate access to a grocery or convenience store from their residence, and the we asked what they thought was the most important part of their house. For the other survey, we asked people to identify if they came from a more rural or urban area, what their primary mode of transportation was, and what they thought was an important public resource for their community (ex: library, parks, medical care, etc.)

    On the back of our installation, we spoke about MDHA’s mission, the definition of affordable housing and the worldwide housing crisis, and highlighted some of our equitable housing projects like Kirkpatrick Park, Envision Cayce, and Westside Evolves! You can click on each project name for more information.

    On September 23rd, the Nashville Civic Design Center held their Golden Cone Awards, a fun award show that honors and shows off everyone’s contributions to that year’s Park(ing) Day! This year, since the theme was Housing as a Public Right, all awards given out were based on the Nashville Affordable Housing Taskforce’s guiding principles. Smith Gee Studio went home with the award for Most Connective and Accessible!

    That’s all until next Park(ing) Day, hope to see you there next year!