Our Open Call for projects ran through August 20, 2012 – out of nearly 100 submissions, our jurying panel selected 18 projects to receive materials stipends and exhibit their work at the UP: San Francisco Street Exposition. The details of the Open Call, which each selected project team addressed through their own approach, are available below, and a gallery of the selected projects is available on our Projects page.
Calling designers, architects, artists, makers, coders, activists — lift your city UP! Do you see the public realm as a canvas? Do you have a design or technology project that could transform the way people experience the city? Bring your projects to life at San Francisco’s Urban Prototyping (UP) Festival – you’ll get a materials stipend, a downtown street exhibition, and a chance to change cities forever through your work.
San Francisco is flush with innovation and imagination. But like most cities, there are significant and time-consuming hurdles to innovating in the public realm. Permits, hearings, fees and other requirements may dampen the enthusiasm of even the most stalwart and dedicated cultural producers. Urban Prototyping promotes alternative and complementary opportunities to this process by testing ideas and solutions for city life through rapid, inexpensive and temporary prototyping projects. This process invites creative solutions to a variety of unmet social needs and enhances the experience of comfort, inspiration and fun in the public realm.
In that spirit, we invite you to participate. Below are the guidelines for submitting a proposal for a curated project to be showcased at the October Street Exposition. You are also invited to participate in the UP: SF Urban Makeathon, a weekend of collaborative creation set to take place in the UP focus area this September.
UP: SF seeks projects that can be easily replicated and adapted in urban contexts around the world, rather than being limited to a single site, event, location or instance. Projects should be designed as an intervention or adaptation which alters the status quo of city infrastructure and public space. For some leading examples of this type of work, see our Examples page.
Each project created as part of the festival must meet three basic requirements:
DIGITAL + PHYSICAL
Projects must include both digital and physical components, ideally mixing the two in unique ways that uncover new possibilities. This call does not preclude traditional urban design projects, but we encourage you to push beyond the boundaries of established disciplines. QR codes fixed on trees, sensor-laden street furniture, a mural accompanied by a time-lapse of its painting, or a seed bomb study documented on an interactive map would all fulfill this requirement in different ways.
OPEN SOURCE + DOCUMENTED
Projects must be open-source in every sense of the word and exhibited projects must be accompanied by a basic how-to guide that will be made available to the public. Details and costs of materials, a step-by-step assembly and installation guide and any source code used will be made freely available via urbanprototyping.org under a Creative Commons license. This open-source framework for innovation will empower designers, makers and other citizens around the world to recreate and adapt the projects in new contexts – and encourage city leaders to learn from their implementation.
REPLICABLE + AFFORDABLE
Projects must be affordable, aiming for a materials budget of less than $1,000 for the prototype phase, and must be designed for a type of place rather than a specific location. Forty placetypes comprising core urban infrastructure have been compiled in the open call submission form, and each project will be designed primarily for one or more of these placetypes. This allows for any project to be easily replicable across a variety of neighborhoods and sites in any city in the world. Selected projects will receive stipends of up to $1,000 for materials and other hard costs, and teams are welcome to raise outside funds to support soft costs.
UP: SF will foster projects that transform objects, space, use patterns, or experiential qualities in the public realm to improve the relationship of individuals to the city.
Priority will be given to projects that:
- improve people’s enjoyment, navigation of and access to the city
- bring disparate populations of the city together
- engage and inspire residents and visitors alike
- are hysterically funny or heartbreakingly beautiful
- are designed to impact policy or become institutionalized in some way
- communicate and/or gather data or information in creative ways
- display material or technological invention
- catalyze or contribute to an ongoing revitalization of underutilized spaces or objects
UP is primarily interested in supporting projects with potential to successfully scale and eventually integrate into long-term city plans and policies. The City of San Francisco is enthusiastic about crowd-sourcing urban design, as witnessed by the successful Pavement to Parks program, which grew out of PARK(ing) Day, an annual guerilla art event. Over the past several years, the Pavement to Parks program has developed a permit framework that enables organizations, businesses and individuals to convert parking spaces and underused fragments of the right-of-way into pedestrian plazas. Currently, the San Francisco Planning Department is exploring a range of new policies that will support similarly incremental, citizen-led projects. With that in mind, the Department co-created the user-friendly SF Better Streets website, which summarizes the different project types, permit processes, resources, and design guidelines that empower citizens to participate in shaping San Francisco’s urban landscape. UP:SF strongly encourages participants to reference the SF Better Streets website and to consider how your project might lead to enduring, structural improvements to the urban landscape.
You can also learn more about the UP Program Model for helping citizen projects become part of the city fabric.
While designed to be transferable to cities around the world, projects should be particularly well suited to the UP: SF focus area. In crafting your proposal, please specify both the spacetype you’ll be engaging and also identify one or more specific locations the project might manifest within the focus area. You can find a map of the area on the Exposition page.
The UP: SF focus area is San Francisco’s Fifth Street corridor from Market to Howard Streets, anchored by The 5M Project on the south and by Hallidie Plaza, GAFFTA, and the Powell Street BART station on the north. These two blocks encompass a range of infrastructure, urban furniture and place types that are found in cities around the world, including a major regional transit station, two public plazas, commercial storefronts, restaurants, corner stores, hotels, tech companies, the city’s largest shopping mall, a network of back alleys, a tunnel, bus and light rail stops, parking lots, acres of underutilized land slated for mixed-use development, and Market Street, San Francisco’s central and iconic boulevard. Although Fifth Street is the primary thoroughfare, participants are encouraged to consider the alleys as a prime part of the canvas as well.
The forces and issues at play in this part of San Francisco are issues that face practically any densely populated urban center in the world, but they manifest in specific places and in specific ways. We have identified a few example opportunities and invite you to explore your own unique ways of harvesting data and find solutions to problems we have yet to tap into.
The streets and plazas of San Francisco are made decidedly less inviting by the wind and chill that whips up in the late afternoon. Is there a way to make public spaces like Mint Plaza more comfortable to inhabit?
The age-old problem of crossing the road: every day hundreds of people dart across Mission Street every day between Mint Street (leading to Mint Plaza and Blue Bottle coffee) and Mary Street (accessing the offices of the Chronicle and the 5M Project). Is there a way to generate the data to justify a mid-block crosswalk here and a way to implement to the crossing and traffic signal for less than the city-estimated $150k?
Nearly four acres of the focus area between Howard, Fifth, and Mission Streets known as the 5M Project are slated to be entirely re-imagined as a mixed use development over the next decade. Much of that land currently consists of parking lots, chain-link fences, blank walls, and treeless sidewalks. What kinds of projects can pioneer new uses of this area and inform the shape of this development?
Selection and Timeline
Proposals must be submitted via the web at sf.urbanprototyping.org/open-call/submit/. Please read instructions carefully before submitting your project.
Proposals will be reviewed and selected by a panel of artists, urbanists, technologists, designers, curators, community organizations, and city officials. Stipends of up to $1,000 will be awarded to projects to cover materials and other hard costs, and teams are welcome to raise outside funds to support soft costs.
Selected projects will be announced several weeks before the Exposition.
About: UP San Francisco 2012
UP: San Francisco is a festival centered around Placemaking Through Prototyping: How Citizen Experiments Reimagine the Public Realm. The festival will foster a wide array of new creative projects which blend the digital and physical to explore new possibilities in public space. Every project produced will be open source, publicly documented, and replicable in any city in the world. Learn more →