Park(ing) Day

Cities 10 February 2016 | 11.02am

As we embark on the next stages of the Future Libraries research, we reflect on our Pop Up Library for Park(ing) Day 2015.

Park(ing) day was initially developed in 2005 by San Francisco art and design collective REBAR. In 2005, they set out to explore the possibilities of transforming a park for cars to a park for people.

From a single space in 2005, Park(ing) Day has become a one-day, global, open source-style event where parking space is reclaimed (simply by pumping some $$ into a parking meter) and turned into temporary public parks.


Arup Sydney office have been involved in Park(ing) Day since 2008 as a way to bring people in the office together to have conversations about the city, and, bring these conversations beyond our office – to the city. Park(ing) Day align to our values of a people centric design for our city, and the infrastructure supporting the city.


Our parks have embraced a series of city challenges:

  • 2008 Productivity: Inviting people to use free WiFi to work in our space and receive the productivity benefits of our park from chickens, herbs and fruit trees
  • 2009 Sanctuary: A bamboo structure to sit, meet and enjoy in the city
  • 2010 Creativity: A space to showcase Arup ventures products
  • 2011 Future Booth: A space overlooking Barangaroo to sketch your imagined window into the future
  • 2012 Cityscape | Soundscape: A space to remix your ideal sound of the future through our own Acoustic team developed program
  • 2013 Cityscape | Dreamscape : A collaboration with UNSW and JOC Consulting at Barangaroo Foreshore to bring explore thoughts on the future of the city via #imagine this


This year the Sydney office Park(ing) Day explored the physical, digital and social layers of the library through a ‘Pop Up’ library. The team brought to life some of the findings of the recently released Arup Future Libraries research report, including flexibility.

“The need for flexibility is inherent in our response to planning the libraries of the future. As is the importance of planning for people, recognising that the ways people learn and seek knowledge are increasingly temporary – and on the go. This is fundamentally shifting the way that libraries, and social and cultural infrastructure needs to be design and planned for.” – Kim Sherwin, Arup Future Libraries Co-author, Arup University Leader, Australasia.


The Pop Up Library was a way to explore how knowledge is and can be accessed by ‘bringing the library to the people.’ Our park was about access to space, the value of the librarian, flexibility, access to content (a bookswap), and digital connectivity.

As one tweeter highlighted: “Trust @ArupAustralasia to set up a temporary library for #ParkingDay. Knowledge is king!”@andrewpettifer


We explored digital layers of the library with Arup Digital to start to uncover experience and activity at our park. A Microsoft Kinect was deployed to count smiles and the number of books swapped. In true Pop Up style the Arup Digital team were tweaking code on the smile-meter only minutes before set up:

Unfortunately we forgot to have a full charge on our device – we did manage to capture the first 20 minutes of activity: 84 smiles and 19 books swapped.


Our visitors were happy, wearing glasses, with big smiles!


Our Pop Up library was hands on. It was about engaging staff and the community, enhancing the streetscape, experiencing the unexpected, and engaging with the possibilities of the future.

The future is largely unknown, but no matter what the world throws at the information professional, it is most certainly opportunity rich. Adaptability and flexibility will be key in the provision of spaces and services that can respond to users’ needs and expectations, while ensuring solid and viable operation models.

Libraries are far from dead and the role of the Librarian will flourish into the future, as will the social interactions, activity and unexpected in the streetscape.

What do you think the library of the future will look like?

What conversation would you like to have at Park(ing) Day 2016?

The recently released Arup Future Libraries research, based on engagement with the library professionals, leaders and designers across four cities (Sydney, Melbourne, London and San Francisco) provides and insight into what we might expect to see in the ‘library of the future’. The report brings together salient trends and implications are analysed extensively, with the aid of user stories and case studies.

Written by Safiah Moore & Kim Sherwin, Arup Park(ing) Day Attendants, 2015

Safiah Moore

Sydney, Australia

“An urban planner focused on citizen experience, designing with our citizens to contribute to high quality of life and happiness. Projects have taken me across Australia and South East Asia for land use and transport projects, cultural infrastructure planning, digital strategies, building resilience and designing training programs. I’m interested in applying a city system approach to exploring change and progression in cities. ”

View all posts by: Safiah Moore