Networked Urbanism

design thinking initiatives for a better urban life

Design critics: Belinda Tato and Jose Luis Vallejo, principals of Ecosistema Urbano

My project was about creating temporary public spaces within underutilized parking lots at Eastport Plaza, a shopping super-block in Southeast Portland.

There are expansive parking lots at this mall, some of which are heavily used, whereas others are predominantly empty of cars. According to the mall manager they “exceed code,” the groundskeeper said he has never seen the parking lots at maximum capacity and from personal observation about 15-20% of parking is rarely used.

I propose to fill in these empty spaces with public uses during the warmer months of the year. (more…)

Of the many hay bale configurations some of them are shown. They are meant to create public space, specifically focusing on a playground as a use. The following shows models, sketches and real-world tests of hay bales.

Model layouts

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Creating temporary pedestrian infrastructure and use within underutilized parking spaces
(Action Plan and Continued Research)

The goal is to bring the public together, so people have the potential to engage and learn. Eastport Plaza is already a heavily used consumer destination. Customers will walk, bike, take public transit and drive to Eastport plaza, but it lacks pedestrian accessibility and character. Of the businesses on site surveyed 10-50% of the customers walk or take public transit. The parking lots are designed for efficient movement and storage of the automobile, not the pedestrian. The space will be temporarily sculpted for the pedestrian without infringing on the automobile accessibility.

I propose to design a business plan for the businesses of Eastport Plaza. This will be in a brochure format.

This site plan shows connections to parks around the neighborhood and calls out certain areas that are underutilized. These parking areas will be temporarily filled with community related uses and special events.

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Mapping of Amenities

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Mapping of Parks and Connections

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The parking lot has the potential for innumerable different uses. Initially implemented programs would be based upon educated speculation. Over time the community can suggestions as to what they would like to see in within their commercial center. Some uses would relate more to the neighborhood, and act as destinations whereas other would be more temporary with their engagement and therefore could interest both shopping commuters and the neighborhood.

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The space will be temporarily redesigned for the pedestrian using cheap and accessible items such as hay bails, wooden pallets and paint. This temporary pedestrian development will connect the pedestrian throughout the site and beyond to amenities in the area.


In most towns and cities of the U.S. single use commercial zones dominate the landscape. This monolithic commercial model is on the decline. Strip development in the U.S. is “slowly coming to an end,” according to Edward McMahon from the Urban Land Institute. More people are online shopping and the younger populations are trending towards living in the city center in walkable neighborhoods. 1 At the Eastport Plaza in Portland, Oregon strip malls, big boxes, and parking lots dominate the 40 acre site.

Eastport Plaza is used by hundreds of customers a day. It provides a multitude of retail, restaurants and grocery. But what South East Portland lacks, is a downtown setting; walkability, public space and a mix of uses.

While many parking spaces in the parking lot are used throughout an average day, the parking lot rarely (if ever) fills up. I propose to fill these empty spaces with temporary public usages to reinvigorate the community. The temporality of uses allows many different ideas to be tested throughout the year. The community will suggest the wants and needs of their neighborhood and they could then be temporarily tested. If the program is not a success then it is removed but if a program is successful it can be implemented again and more permanently. These underutilized spaces have a great deal of potential, some possibilities could be: food carts, sport fields, playgrounds, live music, drama and mini-golf.

For the business owners in Eastport Plaza, bringing in multiple uses to their parking lots will attract more and diverse people with different interests. The more these people linger around the stores the greater the potential of revenue.

1. ”The Decline of the Tacky Strip Mall.” 2011, May, accessed Jan. 28 2014,

Current situations on an average weekend

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South East Portland Neighborhood

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Eastport Plaza

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