A team of design researchers from RMIT have created a public parklet in the heart of Melbourne, which will host a number of programs, games and performances until December 5.

Unlike many parklets that feature a number of cafe seats, the parklet created by RMIT has been designed specifically for Melburnians to have fun in the city centre. When programs aren’t running, city goers are encouraged to relax, socialise or play informally within the space. 

The parklet aligns with the City of Melbourne’s Inside Out and Playable City Melbourne initiatives, which seek to build a welcoming, lively and attractive environment during the warmer months. The RMIT team have researched extensively throughout the design process which has led to the vibrant space.

Troy Innocent, a Vice-Chancellor’s Senior Research Fellow in the School of Design, says parklets should not just comprise tables and chairs.

"We wanted to remind people and local governments that streets are for people, not just for cars, and parklets can be for play, not just for dining," he says. 

“There is a fervent ongoing debate in Melbourne and other cities about the value of street parking versus other potential uses, and the need to expand and enhance public space to support social life."

"Streets are vital community spaces, and parklets can enhance that role.”

Associate Professor Quentin Stevens, a researcher at the RMIT's School of Architecture and Urban Design, said parklets boost vitality, pedestrian safety and comfort on streets.

“Parklets like this one can temporarily transform urban spaces to demonstrate and evaluate what’s possible,” he says.

“They can extend the amount of time people spend in their local neighbourhoods, which is good for business.”

An RMIT study discovered in October that inner-city suburbs severely lacked footpath space and recommended making more parklets permanent.

Stevens says a number of temporary public space interventions, including parklets, have become permanent.

“In cases such as the pedestrianisation of Ballarat Street in Yarraville, once businesses could see the benefits, they were won over,” he says.

“The best way to see what’s possible is to try it in practice.”

The researchers will take note of how many people visit the parklet during the time it is operational, and will look to study the benefits for users and apply the findings when creating parklets in other regions.

The parklet is located alongside State Library Victoria on Little Lonsdale Street, between Swanston and Russell Streets and will remain in place until December 5.

To see the parklet’s full program, click here