Urban Prototyping – 2012

Program Model

In recent years, there have been many exhibitionsfestivals, and other initiatives centered around creative projects designed for the public realm. Collectively these events have served to highlight notable advancements in the field of citizen-led urban design, and in some cases, led to the creation of new projects. At its core, tactical urbanism is about using small-scale, often temporary interventions in public space to drive longer-term conversations and changes in a city. We have crafted the model for Urban Prototyping with this principle in mind, leading to three key steps in our approach.

Long-term solutions can often be jump-started by building and refining quick working models. Due to their public and temporal nature, festivals are great venues for testing out new ideas and generating visibility and dialog – without the more substantial time and resources required for more permanent, formal projects. Within this context, prototypes can be developed and displayed to solicit feedback from residents, city officials, and other stakeholders which can feed into future iterations of the project. This type of approach is reflected in the spirit of both tactical urbanism and agile software development.

Replicating prototypes in a variety of environments helps ensure they are adaptable and applicable to many different contexts. By opening up the designs, source code, materials, instructions, and other resources necessary to recreate each project, UP aims to catalyze a new global community for sharing and scaling citizen-driven urban design and technology work. Lessons learned from applying the projects around the world will be cataloged to help cities find and implement those that are most suitable for their local needs.

Creating a real, lasting path for projects to grow and endure takes insight and resources from a large, diverse group. The core team behind UP: San Francisco is comprised of nonprofits dedicated to design, technology, urbanism, and the arts; private firms on the forefront of design thinking and rapid prototyping; and municipal agencies with a deep understanding of how citizen projects can become formally integrated into the city landscape. The San Francisco Mayor’s Office of Civic Innovation and the San Francisco Planning Department will be looking closely at opportunities to implement select UP projects across the city.