Street piano key to Surrey’s latest ‘pop-up’ park

CITY CENTRE – For a second year, the City of Surrey and a team of winning designers has put a little piece of country right in the middle of a concrete jungle.


On Monday (July 7), setup crews, designers and Surrey’s Civic Beautification Planner Shira Stanfield were on scene at North Surrey Recreation Centre parking lot, just across from Surrey Central SkyTrain station, installing an outdoor picnic area where food trucks will show up daily on a rotating basis.


A piano was installed on the pop-up site as an initiative linked to Pianos on the Streets, which has been a popular feature in Vancouver and other major


cities in the world, and from the Piano Teachers’ Federation founder Sean Pacey. The public piano was put in place Tuesday, making it the first en plein air piano in Surrey.


The piano is a donation from Pacey’s Pianos, a company inherited by Pacey from his grandfather. It will be painted by a local youth group after its installation.


"Since 2009, we’ve done events where we’ve put pianos on the streets and we decided this year would be a great year to do it in Surrey because of the great success in Vancouver," Pacey said.


The installation, called "Gingham Style," was a result of a city-wide design competition called PARKit, a contest through the city that challenged designers to come up with a blueprint for a summertime pop-up park.


The winners of the


contest were husband and wife design-duo Mike Wartman and Liz Nguyen, who came up with "Gingham Style" – a country picnic inspired scene complete with classic red-checked gingham patterns, picnic tables and grassy knoll-influenced scenery.


"Gingham Style" is also a tongue-in-cheek reference to the music video "Gangnam Style" by Korean artist Psy that went viral on YouTube in 2012.


"I’m an architect and my partner Liz is a landscape architect so we teamed up on the project," said Wartman, whose design


was chosen out of 15 entries in the competition. "It’s a bit of a take on the gingham pattern, which is the red-and-white checked quintessential picnic tablecloth pattern, and the idea was to bring that idea of a picnic into an urban context and to do it in a playful way."


Stanfield, who helped facilitate the contest and was the designer for the 2012 installation, said she was optimistic about the amount of foot traffic the site will have.


"This is one of the busiest pedestrian sites in the city because you have people coming off the SkyTrain, there are people going to the mall coming back and forth and the students at SFU, so we wanted it to be successful," she said, adding that it will be a site for food trucks and vendors. "The


idea is to bring a reason for people to come so it helps activate the site by having food trucks."


As for the designers, Wartman and Nguyen will be coming by over the summer months to visit their winning installation, and the on-site public piano that will accompany the space.


"I’m sure we’ll pop by periodically over the summer just to see how things are going, and sample some of the food trucks," Wartman said with a laugh. "We’ll just enjoy the space and use it and hopefully it’s everything that we imagined it to be."


The winning design earned $15,000.


Food trucks and vendors are set to park at the site until Sept. 12.

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