Tuesday, September 7, 2010

DIY Urbanism

I went to the opening for the DIY Urbanism exhibit at SPUR tonight.
The dozen or so projects featured in SPUR's gallery all prove that San Francisco is definitely on the forefront of a grassroots movement to reinvent the city with everything from community gardens, underground markets, public plazas, and several small developments that intend to reuse underutilized urban sites for an economy of local small businesses. Tonight's opening included 3 food carts from the cities exploding street food movement as well. Several of the projects featured were driven by the designers of the exhibit, local DIY champions and public space visionaries, Rebar.

The most intriguing project featured in the exhibit is a proposal entitled Proxy, which will temporarily re-imagine 2 lots along Octavia in Hayes Valley, the former site of the Central Freeway. The proposal, to be installed later this year, will involve several phases of installing a prefab framing and fabric infrastructure that will be occupied by local food and retail vendors. It's an intriguing use of a site that has sat fallow for too long in a popular neighborhood. It's rare that you see a project intended to come to life that acknowledges it's value is only temporary. The renderings seem to revel in the opportunity to create a lightness and transparency which would only be possible with the temporary construction method. The architects of Proxy, Envelope A+D, anticipate the projects lifespan to be 2-3 years after which the housing developments originally intended for the site should be ready for construction.

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