Since 2015, the People Parkers recycled plastic mobile parklet has facilitated the rapid, sustainable and considered reimagining of car parking spaces and roadways into temporary outdoor dining quarters. Born out of the Glebe Point Road Trial Parklet Program, the original People Parker parklets were set up along Glebe Point Road to see how the space could be made more community-focused, friendly, and in tune with the overarching feel of the bohemian inner-Sydney suburb.

Kris Spann, president of the Glebe Chamber of Commerce, winner of the NSW Business Chamber Young Entrepreneur of the Year award and founder of People Parkers, aims to provide a suite of products that can be employed anywhere to demonstrate how a street could be more than a place to park a vehicle.

“Parking spaces are very public spaces, very contested spaces, and potentially very dangerous spaces as well,” says Kris. “We ran our first trial in Glebe, with an existing product that a community group from Clovelly had created which was in a converted shipping container, but we quickly realised that we needed something a bit more specific.”

“We wanted to test a whole heap of locations across the suburb so having something mobile, and easy to move was essential,” Kris recalls. “The original process that we worked with the city of Sydney to develop, to allow us to take out that car space and use it as people's space, was quite long to say the least. So we, as a chamber, engaged two architects – Alexander Symes and Branko Jaric – to assist with designing something fit for purpose.”

The result was the mobile Parkland product, which is essentially a trailer seating area with planters around the perimeter, and umbrella shading that can be easily installed and removed into the car parking space and was registered as well – meaning it was legally able to park there without too many permits.

“But that also brought up its own challenges,” says Kris. “Because we then had to abide by the parking permits! But the reason we made the decision to work with architects is you get that professional approach, you get those aesthetic design principles, you get the adaptability and the thought of the use. I'm a big believer in form following function and making sure that the end user is considered at the forefront. And when you're working with a professional design practitioner, you're getting that professional indemnity and all of the risk mitigation that comes with engaging someone who does this for a living. So in that environment, where you've got vehicles going past, it's very important to consider that and how you work within that environment safely.”

To discover more about Kris’s journey of sustainable democratisation of public space, listen to the full podcast here. This podcast was brought to you in association with Stormtech  proud sponsors of our 2022 Commercial series of podcasts.