Mini Golf in a Parking Space? Tiny Temporary Parks Hit Downtown Houston

Ryan Holeywell | @RyanHoleywell| September 18, 2015

What happens if you rethink what, exactly, a parking space could be? Dozens of architects, planners and urban enthusiasts answered that question Friday in downtown Houston.

Residents transformed parking spaces at the corner of Captiol and Travis Streets into miniature parks in an effort to show the value of rethinking public space. The event was part of Park(ing) Day, a nationwide event in which similar activities took place in cities across the country.

The event was organized by Allyn West of the Rice Design Alliance. “I just sent a big email to everyone I knew, and it kind of came together,” West said. Then he prepaid the city for the use of 16 downtown on-street parking spaces for the day.

Below are some of the ways Houstonians reimagined their parking spaces.

Mini golf

Kinder Institute staff members Whit Bones, Andrew Keatts and Kelsey Walker. Photo by Ryan Holeywell.

Kinder Institute staff members Whit Bones, Andrew Keatts and Kelsey Walker. Photo by Ryan Holeywell.

Rice University’s Kinder Institute for Urban Research created a tiny version of a miniature golf course within the confines of a parking space.

Bocce parklet

Brad Sweitzer of RVI shows off a bocce court parklet. Photo by Ryan Holeywell.

Brad Sweitzer of RVi shows off a bocce court parklet. Photo by Ryan Holeywell.

On a bed of artificial grass, Brad Sweitzer enjoyed a bocce game. The parklet was created by landscape architecture and planning firm RVi.

Be the park

Gayla Plichta of ASLA. Photo by Ryan Holeywell.

Gayla Plichta of ASLA forms the “k” in “Park.” Photo by Ryan Holeywell.

The American Society of Landscape Architects created a parklet featuring images of award-winning designs from its member firms. “It’s about promoting landscape architecture as a profession,” said Gayla Plichta, an ASLA member who helped build the parklet.

Honeycombs

Employees of landscape architecture and urban design firm SWA show off their Houston parklet Friday. Photo by Ryan Holeywell.

Employees of landscape architecture and urban design firm SWA show off their Houston parklet Friday. Photo by Ryan Holeywell.

Photo by Ryan Holeywell.

Photo by Ryan Holeywell.

Employees of SWA, a landscape architecture and design firm, created a bee-themed space, complete with giant honeycomb-shaped furniture.

Tiny house

Photo by Ryan Holeywell.

Photo by Ryan Holeywell.

A group of friends who regularly attend Rice Design Alliance events created a tiny house made from leftover wood they had from a previous project. Inside, they handed out information about the city’s parking ordinance and the minimum number of spaces required for certain types of venues. The idea was to call attention to the priority the city has placed on parking.

What if?

Photo by Ryan Holeywell.

Photo by Ryan Holeywell.

Members of the Rice Design Alliance created a space designed to encourage Houstonians to think about ways the city could be different.

Look up

Photo by Ryan Holeywell.

Photo by Ryan Holeywell.

A parking spot draped in tall, white fabric forces pedestrians to look upwards as they enter the space. “You’ve got a lot of built structures downtown,” said Kypher Lamar of the firm Clark Condon, which created the space. “You don’t always see the sky. We wanted to force you to see it.”

Two paths

Photo by Ryan Holeywell.

Photo by Ryan Holeywell.

Landscape architecture firm TBG created this space designed to resemble its design for the the Big Brothers Big Sisters plaza. It features miniature pathways. “When two paths cross, that’s when a mentorship happens,” said Sarah Zelenak of TBG.

Chess set

Photo by Ryan Holeywell

Photo by Ryan Holeywell

Photo by Ryan Holeywell.

Photo by Ryan Holeywell.

A group including Prairie View A&M students along with members of the the community development corporation Living Paradigm and Architecture for Humanity created this piece featuring a chess set.

Water balloons

Photo by Ryan Holeywell.

Photo by Ryan Holeywell.

Texas Tech University architecture and urban design students build a parklet featuring water balloons hanging from nylon stockings over water. “The idea is it’s a experience you can interact with,” said Joaquin Montes.

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2 Comments

  1. These temporary miniature golf courses are awesome! I’m a golfer myself, and mini golf isn’t quite the same, but it’s a good way to relax and get some putting practice. I would like to have set, then I could take it with me wherever I went. Thanks for the article!

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