SF Market Street Prototyping Festival a Model For Participatory Urbanism

** Link to the official MSPF Data Lantern prototype page here.

Future Cities Lab recently participated in the San Francisco Market Street Prototyping Festival (MSPF) design charrette, where we caught up on the panoply of designs and fructifying prototypes. With two months left until the festival start date of April 9th, projects are developing quickly and promise some interesting concepts for public space. Questions of history, human interaction, policy, and public art are all up in the air, tied together neatly by the apropos choice of venue, The Village, located at 969 Market Street. Open only since August of last year, the space has already attracted a wide range of corporate events, and with it's street-facing doors wide open became the perfect location to lure in random passersby from Market Street, the festival's key clientele. 

The 50 design teams come from a wide range of backgrounds and the projects encompass a wide range of ideas. The Show Box by Jensen Architects is a variable set of cardboard tubes strapped together to form a playful terrain for seating and performance. Daily Boost is a series of platforms for learning affirming poses and postures, a kind of gym for the soul. Meet Wall by AMLGM is a sensing wall that flexes open to become more transparent when people approach, encouraging interaction and performance.

This festival is an ambitious undertaking, and is shaping up to deliver on it's promise of urban innovation. For us, this is the powerful potential of the MSPF: the opening up of urban design to an informed public, the crowd-sourcing of innovation through a structured system of haptic feedback between citizen and city, the maker ideology inherent to the Bay Area. This is what our project, Data Lanterns, is attempting to capture. Instead of data visualization, we believe data physicalization can generate spatial and public benefits, improving the city by tapping into the constant stream of data it produces. For more info please check out our Data Lantern project page (and if the mood suits you, "support" us) at a new civic innovation in its own right, Neighborland: https://neighborland.com/ideas/sf-data-lanterns-a-network.