San Francisco, Calif. – A series of fifty “prototypes” designed to improve civic life lined San Francisco’s main thoroughfare for the first ever Market Street Prototyping Festival from April 9-11, 2015 . The festival related to the city’s Better Market Street initiative and was a joint effort of Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, the San Francisco Planning Department, and the James L. Knight Foundation.
The prototypes brought people together in unique ways, from platforms for interaction to sculptural structures for play and relaxation. In response to the existing physical environment and community needs, some participants provided cultural or infrastructural resources–like popup museums, libraries, or disaster relief centers–while others promoted more spontaneous communication and interaction.
The prototypes worked with sound, light, and text to enrich and promote attentiveness to the specific streetscape. Examples include FOGPLANE, Guerrilla Street Museum, Tag Tunnel, PeepShow, Prototyping Mobility, and Tree of Changes, shown in the pictures above. You can find more coverage of the festival on social media with #MSPF.
Following the 2015 festival, the organizers are already looking ahead. Some prototypes will reappear at to-be-determined locations for longer time periods and will influence further developments of the Better Market Street project, planned for 2018. Another Market Street Prototyping Festival will occur in 2016.
Gray Area’s 2012 festival in San Francisco serves as an early example for similar projects, while the Urban Prototyping Singapore‘s Clean&Green Hackathon from June 2015 shows that Urban Prototyping festivals are starting to happen around the world. Prototypes also move between cities: George Zisiadis’s Pulse of the City, covered here in Public Art Review, was initially developed for San Francisco’s 2012 festival and adopted by Boston in 2013.