Are you still parking or are you already awake?

Munich environmental organization Green City e.V. is working on behalf of the city to bring more life—and more people—into the public (parking) space

October 26, 2019


IMAGE: Green City e.V.



IMAGE: Green City e.V.

The first parklet appeared in the early 2000s in San Francisco and now, cities around the world are testing the new distribution of public space, favouring people over cars. Parklets play an important role, especially in inner-city districts, marking out a distinct, attractive area for public use in places where wide green spaces and unused areas are the exception.


This pilot project has been implemented by the non-profit environmental organisation Green City e.V., on behalf of and supported by the City’s Department of Public Construction. It has demonstrated how well this scheme can work in Munich, changing roads and bringing neighbourhoods together.



IMAGE: Green City e.V.

Together with residents from Munich's ‘Westend’ district, employees of the environmental organisation turned a total of eight parking bays into small, wooden oases for where people can enjoy a get-together. "We started by creating sketches for the parklets together with the residents," explains project coordinator Katharina Frese from Green City e.V.


Many hours and flashes of inspiration later, having discussed many new ideas, solutions and other possibilities, the final designs for the eight self-built parklets were ready and the reign of the cars in the area was over!


"When, after five days of construction, the parklets were finally used by the neighbourhood, it was a great moment. The fact that a mother and child can now enjoy their ice cream in peace and in the shade, or that neighbours can talk about the design of public space as they swap items at the ‘exchange shelf’ shows how important such meeting places are, "says Katharina Frese, beaming.



IMAGE: Green City e.V.

One of those neighbours who has been looking forward to this little oasis between the cars every day since then is Sarah. "It's not just nice to look at something different for a change, but also not to look at car roofs," she explains. "I particularly enjoy this new freedom, because unfortunately I do not have a balcony in my apartment." For the first time, she can drink her afternoon coffee outside - and at the same time make new friends. "I've got to know neighbours I've never talked to!"


The message of the pilot project is clear: parking space is living space!



IMAGE: Green City e.V.

The goal is to answer the question: how is it possible to redistribute the public space of a city? What happens when citizens get the opportunity to help shape their city?


For a whole summer, from July to September 2019, the parklets in the Westend should provide answers, motivate, and shine as good examples of what can be done. Afterwards, the project will be evaluated to determine if and how parklets can turn even more parking spaces into living spaces in the future. Katharina Frese can already give an answer to that: a very clear "yes". From the point of view of Green City e.V., parklets are a great solution to increase the quality of life in neighbourhoods, add a little greenery and strengthen community ties.


IMAGE: Green City e.V.

There are good indications that a trial project like this one can be a long-term success: the Streetlife Festival, which the environmental organisation held for the first time in 2000, is still held twice a year in the Bavarian capital - and is now Germany's biggest street party.


During this event, Green City e.V. transforms over one and a half kilometres of one of Munich's main thoroughfares –the Ludwigstraße, which leads from the Odeonsplatz to the Siegestor - into a colourful promenade. Every spring and every autumn, four lanes, along which 35,000 cars and trucks usually travel every day, turn into a festival area for around half a million visitors. The credo is similar to that of the parklets: ‘Freiraum statt Verkehrsraum’ (‘Free space instead of traffic space’).


In seven themed festival areas, Green City e.V. shows what life in a city can look like when public space is used in a variety of creative ways—for the benefit of the residents rather than their cars.



IMAGE: Green City e.V.

For example, in the area of ​​‘Alternative Mobility’, everything revolves around the transport of the future. There, scooter sharing systems with electric motors, car-sharing offers and the latest innovations in e-mobility are presented, many of which can also be tried out on a test track. The ‘Ludwigstadion’ keeps visitors in motion with a climbing tower, pop up yoga and a test area for BMX bikes as well as a slalom course for skaters.


And everywhere, even in the middle of the impressive Siegestors archway, almost 200 years old, there are green oases with bamboo shrubs, palm trees and seating, inviting you to stop, sit and breathe deeply in the middle of the city. Right in the middle of the street!



* Name changed by the editor




Find out more about Munich's preeminent environmental association by visiting:



Get your groove on and make sure you don't miss the next Streetlife Festival:






The Streetlife Festival by Green City e.V.

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