BIkO Garden thrives in the “what-if...” Recognizing the global momentum to shift the paradigm from predominantly paved urban spaces towards “green” cities, we ask ourselves, what if there was a simple next step towards greener, healthier, and more beautiful cities? The BIkO Garden, an SHKS Architects project sponsored by 4Culture, repurposes the asphalt footprint of a typical parking space as a garden, a bike’s home, and a political statement on the use of our cities.
Within the striped boundary of the parking space, a sculptural rectangle of steel holds a plane of greenery interrupted by a slender central slot housing a golden bicycle. The image is the embodiment of a vision for systemic change in our cities pertaining to our dependence on large, high-speed vehicles which are the primary obstacle to creating more sustainable cities. Cities in the industrial world use 1/3 of their land for roads and parking lots; the BIkO Garden asks us to re-imagine that standard.
In Seattle, 40% of the City’s total land mass is used to move and store private vehicles on roadways and in parking lots, garages and alleys. An average parking spot measures 8’ by 16’, or 128 square feet. A parking spot for a bike can be as small as 8” by 7’, or roughly 5 square feet. What if, one by one, we traded in our cars for bicycles? What would become of all that paving? What would we want those spaces to become? What if the remaining 123 square feet could be reclaimed as green space?
Utilizing sedum plants—a standard in green roof systems, a subterranean reservoir, and passive irrigation, the garden is designed collect rainwater and be nearly self-sustaining while resting on an impermeable surface. In high contract to its surrounding asphalt landscape, the BIkO Garden releases little or no runoff into the storm water system. The BIkO Garden encourages interaction and stimulates creative thinking by helping people envision alternatives to the status quo, and raise public awareness through artful and creative solutions.
IkO Garden has participated in the global PARK(ing) Day movement—once as a month-long installation at 4Culture headquarters downtown, Seattle’s Summer Streets program, and thrown its own Earth Day celebration. BIkO Garden received an Honorable Mention from the northwest design competition, The Shaggies.
What if we can evolve and, in that process, change our cities for the better? The BIkO Garden is one first simple step towards achieving that intention, revealing a slice of reconsidered urban space and offering a vision of what can be.