Tactical urbanism is an umbrella term used to describe a collection of low-cost, temporary changes to the built environment, usually in cities, intended to improve local neighbourhoods and city gathering places. Tactical Urbanism is also commonly referred to as guerilla urbanism, pop-up urbanism, city repair, or D.I.Y. urbanism, Take a look at some tactical urbanism examples from around Nashville:

Parklets/ Walklets

PARK(ing) Day Parklet

PARK(ing) Day Parklet

Park(ing) Day was initiated in 2005 by San Francisco by Rebar, an art and design studio. Taking place on the third Friday of each September, the global event encourages local companies, non-profits and community groups to reserve parking spaces for the day to create temporary pop-up parks. Cities across the globe have accommodated this effort, putting measures in place to allow organizations to reserve spaces as a sanctioned event, rather than a rogue effort.

Nashville’s first Park(ing) Day was sponsored by the Nashville Civic Design Center in 2012 and has continued successfully each year since. The term “park” is often used loosely, as different groups in Nashville have made everything from campsites to mini honky tonks in recent years. No matter the actual structure of the installation, the park must be temporary, fit within on-street parking spaces, and be open to the public. The purpose of Park(ing) Day is to raise awareness about the need for civic space in urban areas and to promote a discussion about the overall use of space in densely populated cities across the globe.

PARK(ing) Day 2013  / PARK(ing) Day 2014  / PARK(ing) Day 2015

Revitalization and Historic Preservation

Save the Roxy

Roxy Theatre

Roxy Theatre

The Roxy Theatre first started as a Red Cross building owned by Ernest Hutton in 1914. In 1936 Tony Sudekum, owner of Crescent Amusement Company, bought the building and turned it into a movie theatre. It operated as an all white movie theatre from 1937 to 1959. The building then served many purposes from a church, a laundromat, a barbershop, and a five and dime. In 1979 Aubrey Mayhew bought and lived in the building. He turned it into a recording studio and live music venue, but still lived in relative isolation in the theatre. In 2009 Mayhew passed away and now the building belongs to Robert Solomon. Plans to restore the building were announced, but cut down because of liens on the property.  However, this did not stop the McFerrin Park Neighborhood Association from realizing the potential of this historic building. In June 2013, they formed the Save the Roxy group to protect the building using tactical urbanism techniques. Monthly outdoor movies were screened on the lawn next to the Roxy, temporary historical markers and posters were hung around the once thriving Rosy District, and temporary art was installed as well. On November 9, 2013 all efforts combined into one big celebration, The Roxy Revival.  The entire district was transformed into a shopping and entertainment destination. The Roxy was transformed back into a theatre with live music and film. Abandoned buildings were revamped with pop-up shops and restaurants and public spaces were filled with trees, lighting, and seating. This one-day event drew in 1,500 people. Although the day ended the impacts of tactical urbanism live on and the District has seen increased activity with three restored commercial spaces in progress.  For further information go to their website and check their Facebook for updates.


Stop. Take Notice!

Stop. Take Notice! started after the loss of Hume-Fogg student, Elena Zamora. As Elena was walking in a crosswalk at Rosa Parks Boulevard and Church Street she was hit and killed by a semi truck. Ever since this tragedy the Hume-Fogg student group has been dedicated to driver and pedestrian awareness. In tune with tactical urbanism methods, the students have used various temporary methods to increase awareness at dangerous intersections. As you walk and drive around the city you will notice temporary signs, writings, and artwork reading, “Stop. Take Notice!” to increase driver and pedestrian awareness and safety. There is an art installation in front of the Frist Center of three bollards with Stop. Take Notice! painted in white, black, and red. Stop. Take Notice! is also stenciled, sprayed, and stickered around downtown. For further information check out their facebook page.


The city of Nashville created a wayfinding signage system to help tourists and Nashvillians navigate the city. The project was initially started in 1997 as a way to guide drivers to parking spots and reduce traffic congestion. Then in 2007 the project was revamped with the purpose to guide pedestrians, not just cars. The project was completed in 2012 and now there is a consistent signage system in the downtown, west end, Vanderbilt, and north Nashville areas. There are pedestrian, roadway, and freeway maps. Pedestrian signs are color-coated, picture 3D appearing buildings, and include nearby attractions.

This project is not necessary tactical urbanism, but the signs have been crucial to improving Nashville’s public spaces. Can you think of any additions to this project to make it easier for non-drivers  to navigate Nashville?

Little Free Library

Little Free Library began in 2009 as a local initiative by a Wisconsin resident, and has since grown into a worldwide movement. Little Free Library promotes access to books and increased literacy, and contributes to a greater sense of community. There are more than 15,000 Little Free Libraries around the world. Libraries consist of small boxes, usually decorated, that are filled with books. They operate on a “take a book, leave a book” concept and are located in front yards, civic spaces, near restaurants and coffee shops, on school grounds, and elsewhere across the nation and world. Little Free Library was officially granted non-profit status in May of 2012, and they have since continued to grow their presence globally. There are at least 10 registered Little Free Libraries in Davidson County (as of July, 2014). For more information on how to start your own library go to the Little Free Library website

1901 Bernard Ave, Nashville

1901 Bernard Ave, Nashville

Community Art

Nashville has awesome public art! There is creativity throughout the city and the art scene is expanding. We are just featuring a few projects here that stood out because they engage Nashvillians in public space. Please provide suggestions of additional projects you would like to be featured here. 

Bicycle Bus and Community Mural

Andee Rudloff is a community engagement consultant and artist, mainly working in Kentucky and Tennessee. In Nashville she has worked at the Frist Center for The Visual Arts and has painted numerous large-scale murals with communities and non-profit groups. She has worked with the Oasis Center, Safe Haven, and Nashville Tomato Festival, Green Fleet Bicycle Tours & Rentals, and more. The work featured here is the Bicycle Bus located underneath the Shelby Street pedestrian bridge. A regular school bus was transformed into a community mural and mobile bicycle rental facility for the Green Fleet Bicycle Tours & Rentals. Green Fleet Founder, Austin Bauman initiated the Bicycle Bus Kickstarter and they partnered with Andee Rudloff, the Metro Parks Department, the Arts and Business Council of Greater Nashville, and the community to make this idea a reality. For more information on the Bicycle Bus visit their kickstarter website.

Our Town

Isle of Printing, specifically Bryce McCloud, and Metro Arts partnered to create the Our Town public art project that created a “portrait of Nashville through a visual conversation of portraits made by its citizens.” June 2013 through September 2014, the Our Town mobile cart traveled through Davidson country to gather and create self-portraits. Our Town serves as a component of NashvilleNext, the plan for Nashville’s future from now through 2040, since it engaged people to think about community planning through art. Now you can see the final product at the Nashville Public Library. To learn more visit the Our Town website

Greening & Beautification

Green Roofs

Green Roof of Pinnacle Building

Green Roof of Pinnacle Building

Green Roofs are rooftop systems with vegetation, a growing medium, and a waterproof casing. Besides being an amenity, green roofs provide many benefits such as reducing urban heat island effect, reducing storm water, absorbing air pollution, insulating buildings, and growing plants. However, insulations of green roofs can be very costly. To offset the price Metro Nashville Water Services offers a green roof rebate for private properties. The credit is applied to monthly sewer charges for the green roof property for 60 months or until the maximum credit about of $10 per square foot of green roof is reached.

L.P. Field Serviceberry Gleaning

Gleaning service berries at LP Field with the Society of St. Andrew.

Gleaning service berries at LP Field with the Society of St. Andrew.

Each spring Society of St. Andrews volunteers glean serviceberry trees at LP Field. Gleaning is a mandate described in the Old Testament in Deuteronomy 24:19, which kept farmers from harvesting the outer edges of their fields. Orphans, widows, and travelers would then pick the outer edges. Now gleaning is more about preventing wasteful food practices. Modern day gleaning is now very popular for urban fruit trees, especially in California.

Gleaning, particularly potatoes, also serves as an effort to feed the nations hungry. Gleaning saves perfectly edible crops that would otherwise be thrown away because of strict cosmetic and dimensional standards instituted by factories to gain efficiency and cut costs.

The L.P. Field gleaning group donates the berries to the food shelf, The Little Pantry That Could, to feed families in need. They have been extremely successful with stories featured on NPR and the Nashville Scene.

Seed Exchange

Nashville Public Library offers a seed exchange program to help support community gardeners. This is a great starting place for beginners to learn how to grow their own garden. The program is free with your library card and available at the Main Library and the Bellevue, Bordeaux, Donelson, Edgehill, Edmondson Pike, Goodlettsville, Green Hills, Inglewood, and Southeast Branch Libraries. You can check out books, movies, CDs, and seeds! You can also save and return seeds back to the library. For more details visit their website.

Seeding Spaces written by Nashville Civic Design Center Research Fellow, Alicia Smith, is an overview of urban agriculture in Nashville. It defines urban agriculture, gives the historic context of urban agriculture, highlights important policies and codes, discusses food issues, and details several case studies and organizations in Nashville.