September 17th, 2020
PARKing Day 2020: Open Air Classrooms

PARKing Day is about reimagining what is possible in urban spaces and how altered forms can introduce new possibilities of civic interaction.

disston sisters parking day
future wrt designers showcasing their thoughtful, swing-focused outdoor classroom designs.
maya and geneva o neill
Above from Left to Right: Abby + evie and maya + geneva

In 2020, as a global pandemic has forced much of our work and socializing into the virtual space of our computer screens, we wanted to reassert the importance of the embodied occupation of our social spaces. Our 2020 PARKing Day design focuses on children, whose growth and development cannot be put on pause during the pandemic.

swing module context
swing module inspired by the children's designs.

Over the summer, we saw parking spaces in Center City transformed into outdoor dining venues, providing welcome economic relief to restaurants and a place for people – mainly adults – to socialize in relative safety. With the start of school year, we propose that similar accommodations can be made for the social and educational needs of our youth by creating open-air classrooms throughout the city. 

sketch outdoor classroom
Future WRT designer, Audrey, sketched what is most important to her: her classmates.
elliott outsidewithinsidesketch
FUture WRT designer, elliott, integrated social distancing measures and swings.

So much of 2020 has been spent asking “what is essential?" - so we began this project by surveying students of varying ages and teachers to find out what they miss most about going to school and what physical elements of the classroom are most important for learning. We based our design on the general consensus that social interactions are the most crucial aspect of school that is missing from virtual learning, and that a “classroom” consists mainly of a place to gather, sit, and sometimes write. We hope it will inspire creative thinking about how and when the students in our city are able to return to in-person school.