San Francisco (2005) the first-ever parklet designed and implemented by Rebar. Read more here.

Bologna, Italy
September 19-21, 2024

The modern parklet was created in San Francisco in 2009, building upon a long legacy of temporary occupation of roadway space to create tiny public spaces. Initially conceived of as a temporary expansion of the sidewalk into the vehicular right of way, parklets have evolved into their own unique space typology. The City of San Francisco Parklet Program has been imitated and adopted globally and parklet-like spaces grew steadily in cities around the world from 2009 to 2019. 2020 witnessed a radical expansion of non-conventional use of the roadway as many communities sought to use outdoor public space in the streets as gathering places and for commercial outdoor dining and retail. While recent years have witnessed a contraction of these pandemic-era uses of streets, many communities are continuing to grapple with some fundamental questions about these spaces; such as: Are they public or private? How to balance commercial and community uses of the curb lane? Who administers these programs and how do municipalities manage a fee structure for public and commercial uses of the public right of way? How do cities balance this explosion of user generated uses of the public right of way while maintaining standards of accessibility, public safety, and design quality in the public realm?

Please join us for an international convocation to debate and discuss the above questions with some of the founders and leaders of the parklet movement. Help craft a manifesto including principles and design guidelines that can inform an EU parklet standards document. Participate in a Park(ing) Day event in Bologna.  Submit research and writing for a special publication in The Journal of Public Space dedicated to this topic.


DAY 1 – Thursday, September 19, 2024
Gather in Bologna and participate in a day-long symposium on parklets and temporary transformation of the urban space, facilitated by today’s leaders in the field.

DAY 2 – Friday, September 20, 2024
Participate in Bologna’s first ever Park(ing) Day event and tour some of the city’s diverse public spaces.

DAY 3 – Saturday, September 21, 2024
A smaller group of leaders in the field will gather at Museo Spazio Pubblico to begin to craft a Parklet Manifesto for the European Union.


Publication of the call for papers: February 26, 2024
Deadline for abstract submission: May 31, 2024
Notification of accepted abstracts: July 22, 2024
Deadline for full paper submission: November 30, 2024
Publication expected: July 2025


About the initiators and curators

John Bela is an urbanist, public space designer, and artist. John co-founded Rebar, the creators of Park(ing) Day in 2005 and designed some of San Francisco’s first Parklets. John currently runs Bela Urbanism, a public space design studio based in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Luisa Bravo is a public space scholar and passionate activist. With her non-profit organization City Space Architecture she promotes public space culture at the global scale, working in collaboration with UN-Habitat and leading institutions, through multiple initiatives and events. She designed and implemented the first-ever parklet in Bologna. She has an outstanding background in research and academia, and she is Adjunct Professor in Urban Design at the University of Florence.

Ryan Smolar directs the PlacemakingUS Network, a pivotal organization in the United States focused on sharing innovative placemaking strategies, best practices, and insightful case studies, both domestically and internationally through our collaboration with the global PlacemakingX Network. Amidst the challenges of the pandemic, our team spearheaded the promotion of parklets. This initiative enabled restaurants, businesses, and social organizations to creatively utilize outdoor spaces for gathering, thereby enhancing community engagement and visibility. A notable achievement was our collaboration with a Cambodian nonprofit to launch the “Night Marklet,” an inventive fusion of a Night Market and a Parklet. Additionally, we played a key role in drafting city-level regulations that facilitated the allocation of $1.9 million in recovery funds to develop parklets for small businesses.

Contact us

parkletsymposium@museospaziopubblico.it


Bologna, Italy (2020), a parklet designed and implemented by City Space Architecture during the COVID-19 pandemic as a response to the physical distancing, co-funded by the Creative Europe program of the European Union. Read more here. (Pictures by Elettra Giulia Bastoni)


Long Beach, USA (2022), a parklet designed and implemented by PlacemakingUS in partnership with The MAYE Center in a Cambodian neighborhood that hosts a monthly night market. Read more here.


San Francisco, USA (2011 / 2024), several parklets designed and implemented by Rebar (three above) and by Bela Urbanism (one below).