When one thinks of a park, one usually imagines a large plot full of trees in the centre of the city with routes for walking or jogging, and shaded sitting areas where people can enjoy the fresh breeze during the hot summer days. But what happens in cities, like Thessaloniki, Greece, in which green spaces are vital, but there is no free for such uses?
Pocket parks are the solution to this common “lack-of-green-spaces” problem. Pocket parks, also known as vest-pocket parks or mini-parks, are just a smaller version of a regular park. All that is needed is a vacant lot between, or even behind, a couple of blocks of flats. As you can easily imagine, the less money, the more creativity!
A mini-park could include spaces for relaxing, a playground that you can visit with your children on a sunny morning, a small space for events, or even a small café where you can meet with your friends during your lunch break.
Cities known for their high level of architecture and urban planning, like New York City, can demonstrate great examples of pocket parks. Greek cities have seemed quiet indifferent to this type of green spaces - at least, until today. There are many proposals for mini-parks in several cities of Greece , such as Athens, Thessaloniki, and Agrinio. These are mostly made by students of Schools of Architecture. Just a few months ago in Athens, the dream actually came true. Although it cannot be compared with the modern design Paley Park (NYC) has, it is a great start, and we all look forward for the next project.
I think it is about time we reorganized the needs of our city and dealt with them, not with costly projects but with intelligence and creativity. Pocket parks are certainly a way to do that. They may seem a small and discreet intervention, but at the same time they may be a breath of fresh air for the concrete cities in which we live.
Are there any pocket parks in your city?
Credits: Images and data linked to sources.