Manchester, England, isn’t known for being a particularly green, lush place. Compared to London, which has several big parks, the U.K.’s second city is grey, reflecting its industrial past. It’s beautiful and vibrant–but not verdant.
This lack of greenery inspired the idea for Plot–an unusual type of public garden. Sitting on top of a city center shopping mall, the recently-closed graden was a 26-square-foot space, available on-demand for one-hour long slots.
The organizers say the idea aligns with two needs. One, people don’t have time to tend to gardens full time. And two, city-dwellers are crying out for green space, especially in summertime.
“It’s a response to people wanting to stream rather than buy, and the shift towards access to goods and services instead of ownership,” says Kate Towey, from magneticNorth, the local design company that developed the concept. “We also see a need to satisfy people’s desire for green space, particularly in urban areas where availability is limited.”
The garden was only temporary. It was in place for the Dig the City urban gardening festival, which ran until August 10. But the concept is intriguing, as it takes the sharing economy’s ethos and applies it to a scarce public good. It’s a way of portioning out something that’s valuable but limited.
Towey says there was a wide range of people signing up, including parents who want to play with their kids, a single woman who wants to drink wine and read her book in the greenery, and a young man wanting to use the space for a marriage proposal.
Lou Cordwell, CEO magneticNorth, hopes to make the idea permanent and is currently looking for partners and potential venues. “The future is about access not ownership and Plot has the potential to be another interesting new product in this space,” he writes in an email.