Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Pavement to Parklets Freo style

A couple of weekends ago, I was kicking back with some friends at Moore & Moore Cafe in the newish alfresco area that fronts Henry Street. My companions went to order and I was left to guard/admire our spot. While I waited I took in the scene around me and thought what a success it was for such a small space.

It struck me that this new alfresco area had brought life out onto Henry Street, and the greenery had added to the street not subtracted from it. 
And all in the same space as a car bay or two!

Introducing a new type of open space

Recently, a new type of open space - the parklet or pop up park - has been successfully introduced into New York and San Francisco which has led to other cities implementing similar initiatives.

A San Francisco parklet
Source: San Francisco Pavements to Parks website
These cities recognised that there was something missing in the overall provision of open space in the inner city for people to enjoy. They had found that at different times people have different needs, which doesn't always lead them to the larger parks that were on offer. In short, they discovered that people were also attracted to smaller more intimate, and welcoming spaces that were carefully located so as to be a part of the urban fabric.

These new types of open space, which are available to the public, have been successful. They've represented an investment in the public realm and the pedestrian environment, and have contributed more life to the streets.

A model for revitalising Freo?

For me, people are the key for driving Freo's revitalisation. This means that, above all else, place matters. Quality places will be really important in attracting residents, tourists, creatives and businesses to Freo. It strikes me that Moore and Moore's type of hybrid alfresco/parklet space could provide a model for Council as part of its revitalisation efforts.

I'd like to see Council investigate San Francisco's 'Pavement to Parks' initiative and prepare its own comprehensive strategy for implementing a range of better quality open spaces in the city centre.

If done properly, these hybrid parklets would add to the variety of choice in the city centre and provide places of discovery that equates to a natural advantage for Freo (think Melbourne's laneways). One new hybrid space each year for a decade would mean ten quality types of these spaces in Freo's city centre.

Combine the introduction of these little spaces with an upgrade of our medium and larger parks around the city centre and we'll have our point of difference and be a couple of steps closer to achieving revitalisation.

Additional reading

Here is some additional reading:
For the official San Francisco Pavements to Parks website click here.
For some interesting reading on parklets click here and here.


  1. Subiaco is moving ahead of Fremantle. The Rokeby Road car bay initiative will turn car bays into alfresco dining areas after business hours, in an effort to create vibrancy in the city. The City will waive annual alfresco dining license fees for new applications that take up the car bay initiative.

    1. Hi Colin,

      Thanks for commenting. It sounds like Subiaco are on the right track. Hopefully Freo can catch up.

  2. I agree, Michael. the Moore&Moore alfresco area is a good example of what Fremantle council should be encouraging, and the owner of M&M, Simon Naber, should be congratulated for his initiative, which had to cross big council hurdles.

    Doing away with or lowering alfresco fees might help encourage cafes to go that way, but in general Freo needs more spaces where people can linger. There are no seats near the Round House for example, the alfresco spots in Henderson St mall are boring. Where are the plant boxes, etc?

    Roel Loopers

    1. You're right Roel, Simon and the crew at Moore & Moore deserve the plaudits. I'd love to see more of these hybrid spaces around the city centre. People attract people, so the more life on the streets the better it is flr everyone.