This Friday, September 18th, is Park(ing) Day, a worldwide event where artists, citizens, and designers transform metered parking spots into temporary public parks. In Los Angeles, Rios Clementi Hale Studio hopes to put the spotlight on the ongoing drought issue by educating the public about the benefits of stormwater capture.
The public has been bombarded with information on how to conserve water in the home, and it seems to be working. The LA Times reported that residential use in May dropped a hefty 29 percent compared with last year. However, Rios Clementi Hale wanted to bring attention to infrastructure changes that can conserve water in the long term.
“We wanted to create an installation that brought attention to drought issues that required a collective response,” says Abigail Feldman, associate landscape architect at Rios Clementi Hale. “One of the bigger picture issues is that the city’s infrastructure isn’t designed to capture and recycle stormwater.”
The team calculated that in an average year, one parking spot could capture 1,344 gallons of water, and in a year of drought like this one, about 770 gallons. And, according to a 2012 district study by the Council for Watershed Health, the City of Los Angeles has the potential of capturing 5.5 billion gallons of stormwater that are wasted each year.
To illustrate the concept, the designers decided to create an installation that shows the physical representation of the data. An optical illusion of an excavation of the asphalt (a printed image on vinyl) showing various depths of water anchors the installation. Around it, balloons in various sizes present a volumetric representation of how much water can be captured in the parking spot.
“Within the balloon cloud we wanted to bring an individual scale, each balloon could represent what you could use it for—brushing your teeth or taking a five minute shower,” says Feldman. “It’s just about contributing to the ongoing conversation thinking about the way we live and looking to the future. People will look at things a little differently and maybe they’ll become motivated to become advocates for a sustainable future.”
Visitors can see the Park(ing) spot between 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. across from the firm’s office at 639 N. Larchmont Blvd. Designers from Rios Clementi Hale Studios—Abigail Feldman, ASLA, Jason Neufeld, Sabrina Schmidt-Wetekam, LEED AP, Tom Myers, Josh Petty, Grant Saita, Kate Gmyrek, Ashley Hart, and Ben Tamuno-Koko—will be on location to provide facts and tips on capturing water.