The density of large cities is what makes them great. It’s what makes for efficient public transportation, superior infrastructure and tightly knit communities. However, extreme urban density often goes hand in hand with scarcity of both open and public space, the amount of which is extremely important to urban inhabitants’ psychological well-being. Green spaces with trees and plants also help cool cities, provide shade and clean the air. How do we create more open green spaces in cities with very limited available space?

Jill Fehrenbacher asks: In crowded cities, how do we create better and more public green space to improve quality of life?
Matteo Cibic answers: I have been living in Milan since 2000 and, shockingly, since then have not once sat on a bench underneath a tree here. It seems there is very little room to create new green spaces. So, I started thinking: If you can pay to park your car in front of your house or office, why can’t you also pay to have a tree right there?

A SOCIAL AWARENESS TOOL

This bothered me so much that I decided to create a concept that allows citizens to individually decide where they want a green public space.

HOW IT WORKS
Imagine a tree and bench installed on wheels, which could be parked just like a car. Citizens could decide to finance the stay and maintenance of this little garden and park it wherever they like. Parking it would also reduce the number of available parking slots, and thus would also function as an experiment showing if people are ultimately willing to sacrifice parking space for green space.

SERVICES FOR THE COMMUNITY
In addition to the bench and tree, the device could also deliver additional services to the neighborhood. It could reduce the “electro smog”, the hundreds of private hotspots currently operating separately in one location, by installing one WiFi hotspot, accessible to everyone. It would make the neighborhood safer thanks to a help button and a light to illuminate dark streets. It could also have a USB charger for people who’d like to work outdoors. I see this social and design concept as a great way to make my hometown, Milan, a better and more livable place. With these portable gardens, we could create new green areas right in the heart of the city, and everyone could live right next to a tree once in a while.