Parasols, Slides and Succulents for Better Cities? SF says, 'Why Not?'

What do all these seemingly unrelated elements have in common? They were just a few of the creative ideas for improving the urban environment showcased at the recent Urban Prototyping Festival held in San Francisco.

"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," writes Ariel Schwartz.

She's referring to the Urban Prototyping Festival, which brings together "performances, food and expert speakers," while focusing on the future of urban innovation. According to the event website, "urban prototyping" is defined as "a global movement exploring how participatory design, art and technology can improve cities." All submissions are judged with the criteria of actual replication and adoption in mind.

This year, the festival "was held in the city's troubled yet evolving Central Market neighborhood", reports Schwartz, showcasing 18 out of the dozens of submissions made by "local residents [aiming] to make the urban environment more livable." Some of the more interesting submissions included "Pulse of the City" allowing passersby to "walk up and measure their pulse" and stress levels, says Allison Leahy. Another entry, "PPlanter", is "a urinal attached to garden spaces", which filters water through bamboo biofilters to water plants.

Another noteworthy example, the "10-Mile Garden", capitalizes on a loophole in San Francisco's law that prohibits parking in front of the city's 9,000 fire hydrants, but that doesn't explicitly state these areas need to be paved. The project, thus, proposes using succulents as a native plant to embellish and 'greenify' these otherwise drab grey areas scattered throughout the city. These are just a few of the many projects that were on display over the weekend, check out the slideshow accompanying the article to view more.

Full Story: Prototyping The Urban Environment With Garden Urinals And Staircase Slides


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