For a few days in October, Market Street got a little friendlier, a little more colorful, and a little more fun. The Play Station was live on the sidewalk, next to a bus stop just down the block from Powell Street. Our team was selected to join the Market Street Prototyping Festival, with support from the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts and the SF Planning Department.
Thousands of passersby from all walks of life stopped to interact with our kinetic bike sculptures or to take a spin on one of our three free public exercise bikes. Above, a young girl spins the hand-cranked LED bicycle wheel featuring a programmable LED light display from Berkeley’s own MonkeyLectric.
We were fortunate to have wonderful weather for the entire installation. Here, visitors take the bikes for a spin, and the last rider plays a game of “Newspaper Delivery”. The game, a simple toss game designed by team mate Ivan Rodriguez, was a crowd pleaser as visitors got competitive about slinging the newspapers into a faux windowbox from the bike.
A young visitor checks out one of the zoetropes designed by team mate Michael Huang, a popular attraction we placed to create a “soft edge” to our installation and draw people’s attention and interaction. Visitors could even draw their own zoetrope design on receipt paper. The zoetropes are mounted on bike wheels.
The overhead canopy I designed from 4-way stretch mesh had the unexpected effect of creating dappled light and shade (we didn’t expect much sun), hung on a structure designed by team mate David Yao. It also achieved my personal aim of creating a sense of color and inviting space on drab Market Street.
The whole design team. Not pictured – friends and significant others who helped load, carry, shop, paint, install, and volunteer on the festival days! We’ll share more insights shortly – data collection led by team mate Deland Chan will reveal more insights on how many visitors we had, how many interacted with various parts of The Play Station, and what their thoughts were about public space and Market Street.
Keep your eyes peeled for a new outdoor fitness and play installation that will be popping up on the sidewalk of Market Street in downtown San Francisco this fall. I’m part of the team behind “The Play Station”, a concept proposal that was accepted by the Yerba Buena Center for The Arts and the San Francisco Planning Department to be part of this year’s Market Street Prototyping Festival.
Our team has been engaged in a brainstorming and concept development process for the past couple months and we’re excited to share our project progress with you:
Play is for everyone. But there’s really nowhere to play on Market Street. Thousands of people will walk by this spot or wait for the bus – but they won’t play. Step into The Play Station and experience Market Street in more fun way. Placing free, public workout equipment in a public space is a radical way to invite everyone to workout, play, and feel good – right on a city sidewalk. Community starts with a shared experience. The Play Station invites anyone to look up, get curious, and start playing. Don’t just wait – play. How far can you go while you wait for the bus?
After researching current challenges and needs on Market Street (above, a visual of a typical bus stop), we’ve recently moved from concept development to prototyping some of the moving parts.
Team Play Station recently had the opportunity to get feedback from the public at an open house along with other artists and designers. We debuted our kinetic hand-cranked bicycle sculpture prototype, complete with installation of a 256-LED programmable Monkeylight PRO donated by our new friends, local business, and bike fun advocates Monkeylectric over in Berkeley.
Stay up to date on our progress by following #mspf and #playstationsf and by adding your name to our email list over at www.theplaystationsf.com – or come find us October 6-8 on Market Street between Ellis and O’Farrell Streets! We’re open to collaboration (activities, games, cyclecomputers and more), participation (lead a game or activity during the festival) or feedback (how to make our installation safer and more interactive), so please get in touch.