Public Anemone

Date: 2014
Size: 3m x 3m x 3m
Materials: Fiberglass Composites and LED lights
Tools: Grasshopper, Kangaroo, Weaverbird

Description: Public Anemone is a piece of urban street furniture that advocates for provisional, ambiguous, and playful interaction with the diverse populations of Market Street. Rather than falling into a neat category of “street art”, “bench” or “play structure”, Public Anemone is all of these and more. The design recognizes that Market Street must cater to populations of vastly different backgrounds, interests, and perspectives and provides a structure that invites both cultural and physical interpretation by all people. The structure is simultaneously an urban icon that would draw tourists and locals, a simple, yet playful bench, and a stage set for music and dance performances. At night, its arms subtly glow and pulsate creating an urban campfire around which people can meet up before heading out into the city.

As a prototype, the project explores a variety of ideas:

  • Branding: The structure is designed to be an iconic symbol for the Embarcadero district of Market Street. The multi-armed design of Public Anemone resonates with a variety of sea creatures and almost appears as if it had pulled itself up out of the nearby Bay. In addition, the design builds on the Embarcadero’s reputation for activating space through civic events, recreation, and art. The design acts as a welcoming symbol for the SF Art Market as people arrive from and the Embarcadero Bart Station and further up Market Street.
  • Playfulness: The structure is designed to encourage play on, under, and around it by all ages. Almost like the roots and branches of a tree, the structure twists and turns and invites the public to discover new ways to crawl under, sit on, and climb over it. Specifically, the elephantine legs of the structure will draw children to move between them and play in a space that is only large enough for them.
  • Modularity: The design is made out of 24 identical fiber-composite arms. Each arm is rotated around a central node and composed of two parts: a translucent composite shell that would be backlit at night with low-power LEDs and an opaque composite shell that provides more structural rigidity.
  • Scalability: The modularity of the arm design allows it to scale up to multiple sites or even multiple arm designs in the future (e.g. longer arms that could provide more seating, bicycle parking, etc.)
  • Mobility: The use of fiber-composite construction means that the structure is both strong and lightweight and could be easily moved during the festival to multiple locations. This enables the structure to be reconfigured as needed for specific events such as potential music and dance performances.
  • Durability: The fiber-composite structure also makes the structure resistant to wear as well as waterproof. The use of a modular design means that parts could be quickly and inexpensively replaced if damaged.
  • Interactivity: The prototype design currently uses a modest, pre-programmed pattern of pulsating light however this could be developed further to explore how the lighting change according to real-time data acquired from either local sensors or online databases.

Credits: Andrew Kudless (Design); Stephanie Stockwell, Rhett Cowen, Mosaab Alsharif (Prototyping); Kreysler & Associates (Fabrication Consulting)

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