10-Mile Garden

San Francisco has 9,000 fire hydrants. According to city law, the areas in front of fire hydrants can’t be used for parking. But they don’t have to be paved, either. This project proposes turning 26 fire hydrant sites into greenspaces that double as bioswales and community gardens. Succulents are used in the sample shown here because they’re native to the area.

10-Mile Garden

San Francisco has 9,000 fire hydrants. According to city law, the areas in front of fire hydrants can’t be used for parking. But they don’t have to be paved, either. This project proposes turning 26 fire hydrant sites into greenspaces that double as bioswales and community gardens. Succulents are used in the sample shown here because they’re native to the area.

Pulse Of The City

Wondering how all that city stress is impacting your heart rate? This prototype, attached to a lamppost, lets passersby walk up and measure their pulse via a sensor on the device. An algorithm turns the pulse into a drumbeat, melody, and tempo, and the data is wirelessly uploaded to a dedicated website, where anyone can see the heart rates of people around the city in real time (once more devices are let loose on city streets).

Fruit Fence

The Fruit Fence is exactly what it looks like: a clip-on planter for city fences. Growing structures made out of fabric (known as AgBags) can be placed over fences, and care instructions written on the bags help citygoers tend to the plants. Each fruit tree comes with an ID number that can be texted to a specific number to record and check on plant care information (i.e. when the plant was last watered and fertilized).

Fruit Fence

The Fruit Fence is exactly what it looks like: a clip-on planter for city fences. Growing structures made out of fabric (known as AgBags) can be placed over fences, and care instructions written on the bags help citygoers tend to the plants. Each fruit tree comes with an ID number that can be texted to a specific number to record and check on plant care information (i.e. when the plant was last watered and fertilized).

CitiPlay

CitiPlay is like a cross between hopscotch and the game Simon Says asking players to remember and repeat patterns that light up on the board.

Clip + Slide

Remember the scene in Big where Tom Hanks plays the human-sized piano at FAO Schwarz? This is kind of like that. The Clip + Slide kit turns public stairs into musical slides. The kit, which consists of sensors and wood strips that clip to staircases, generates musical tones and lights up as people slide down. The creators already have plans to tour the kit around different urban stairways (there are over 350 in San Francisco alone).

Clip + Slide

Remember the scene in Big where Tom Hanks plays the human-sized piano at FAO Schwarz? This is kind of like that. The Clip + Slide kit turns public stairs into musical slides. The kit, which consists of sensors and wood strips that clip to staircases, generates musical tones and lights up as people slide down. The creators already have plans to tour the kit around different urban stairways (there are over 350 in San Francisco alone).

Street Stage

This modular platform contains proximity sensors, a built-in microphone, and lights, making it the perfect place for impromptu city performances.

Street Sensing

This platform for mapping and reporting environmental and health data uses an open-source Arduino AirCasting platform to let anyone collect pollution data with their Android phones--all you have to do is plug in a sensor (for CO2, NO2, humidity, heart rate, etc.) and the platform tracks the data as you walk around. All data is available at AirCasting.org. Next up for the project: a launch with high school students in Brooklyn, New York.

Street Sensing

This platform for mapping and reporting environmental and health data uses an open-source Arduino AirCasting platform to let anyone collect pollution data with their Android phones--all you have to do is plug in a sensor (for CO2, NO2, humidity, heart rate, etc.) and the platform tracks the data as you walk around. All data is available at AirCasting.org. Next up for the project: a launch with high school students in Brooklyn, New York.

PPlanter

In many urban spaces, public urination is a big problem. The PPlanter tries to make the best of an unpleasant situation with a urinal attached to a garden space. The wastewater is filtered through a bamboo biofilter before being used to water the planters.

PPlanter

In many urban spaces, public urination is a big problem. The PPlanter tries to make the best of an unpleasant situation with a urinal attached to a garden space. The wastewater is filtered through a bamboo biofilter before being used to water the planters.

PPlanter

In many urban spaces, public urination is a big problem. The PPlanter tries to make the best of an unpleasant situation with a urinal attached to a garden space. The wastewater is filtered through a bamboo biofilter before being used to water the planters.

Urban Parasol

This shelter is made of open-source 3-D designed joints and readily available PVC piping. The prototype was a little flimsy, but a fleshed-out version of the urban parasol could provide shelter from wind or rain. Slap a few flexible solar panels on top and the parasol suddenly becomes an energy-harvesting hub as well.

2012-10-25

Co.Exist

Prototyping The Urban Environment With Garden Urinals And Staircase Slides

The city as it exists doesn’t have to be the city we live in. These crazy projects could reinvent the urban landscape--and make it a little more fun.

In cities across North America, tiny parks known as "parklets" have begun to take over parking spots in front of storefronts, creating spaces for passersby to congregate, lounge, and park their bikes. Parklets are just one piece of a larger movement to take back underutilized public spaces in cities. This past weekend, San Francisco’s Urban Prototyping Festival, held in the city’s troubled yet evolving Central Market neighborhood, showcased creative innovations from local residents that aim to make the urban environment more livable.

Pulse of the City.

We first wrote about the Urban Prototyping Festival, a collaboration between the Gray Area Foundation for the Arts (GAFFTA), the SF Mayor’s Office of Civic Innovation, and 5M Placeworks, and others, in August. GAFFTA had managed to whittle down dozens of entries--all required to include physical and digital components and be easily replicable--down to 18 finalists. In theory, the projects sounded brilliant. But seeing is believing: The finalists exhibited at the festival, along with five additional projects dreamed up during a "makeathon" held earlier this fall. They’re all still in the early stages of development, but that’s the point. As the festival’s website points out, "long-term solutions can often be jump-started by building and refining quick working models." And one day soon, you might spot these solutions in a city near you.

Check out the slide show above for our favorites, from a device that measures the pulse of the city, to simple performance spaces for street musicians, to, yes, public urinals that house a garden.

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