Location: San Francisco, California
Client: SF Planning Department, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts
Dates: September 27 – October 25, 2015
Team: D. Ouyang, B. Carilli, A. Genecov
Type: POP-UP, Public
After the success of our first Common Ground installation in April of 2015, the Market Street Prototyping Festival team invited us back as one of five select prototypes for a special Central Market Showcase from September 27 – October 25, 2015 between 6th and 7th street.
Having already deconstructed and recycled our original installation, we took this as an opportunity to reimagine Common Ground for a new context, both to demonstrate its versatility and to refine its interactivity based on lessons we learned from the first iteration. For example, one thing that surprised us was that people wouldn’t just walk by Common Ground; they would play on it and with each other for hours, to the point that it often looked like a public dance party. Another thing that surprised us was just how powerful the interaction could be as an empathy builder between strangers. We saw children and adults alike forming meaningful connections within a matter of seconds by empowering each other with discovery and delight.
We wanted to capture this incredible magic and take it one step further.
Common Ground v2 literally has two parts to it. The first part, called the Common Garden, is similar to our v1, half bench and half sidewalk with a central planter that shoots jets of water when two corresponding switches are activated. We’ve scaled down this feature so that there are only four sets of fountains, but we’ve also made it much easier for kids, as well as people in wheelchairs, to activate the ground switches. We’ve also re-engineered the water system so that more water is recycled in light of the California drought, thanks to help from the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission. If you come play at night, you’ll also find new spotlights integrated with the fountains.
The second part is a whole new design that we call the Common Mirror. Both sides of a open frame feature ground panels that are linked to their mirrored counterparts. When mirrored steps are activated, a corresponding frame on the wall lights up. What we hope to see are strangers creating elaborate sequences of mirrored steps across eight different squares, to the extent that not only are their steps mirrored, but their hands, their bodies, their facial expressions, and ultimately, their well-being. Definitely come see this one when it gets dark!
Photos of the final installation: