UP: San Francisco Open Call Selections Announced!

The Urban Prototyping: San Francisco team is excited to announce the results of our Open Call for project proposals, which closed last Monday, August 20. We were thrilled with the quality and variety of the proposals, with nearly 100 submissions coming in from four continents. Perhaps most exciting was the diversity of skill sets represented, including architects, urban planners, technologists, engineers, acousticians, artists, designers, and makers of all backgrounds.

Last week, representatives from GAFFTA, Intersection, 5M Placeworks, IDEO, REBAR, the SF Mayor’s Office of Civic Innovation, and the SF Planning Department collectively reviewed the proposals and narrowed the selection down to 18 projects. These teams will work on preparing their projects for the next two months, culminating in their public display at our Street Exposition the weekend of October 20 in downtown San Francisco.

Stipends ranging from $300 to $1,000 have been awarded based on the teams’ proposed budgets and scale of their proposals. These budgets are affordable by design, allowing them to be quickly replicated, built upon, and iteratively improved in cities around the world through knowledge-sharing and open source code and design.

The open call sought projects exploring new possibilities in the public realm through physical and digital design interventions. The selected projects employ a wide variety of technologies, including web and mobile applications, SMS interaction, sensors, microcontrollers, video projection, and on-street lighting, and design tools ranging from urban agriculture to modular shade structures to pop-up windbreaks. Collectively, the projects seek to breathe new life into underexplored components of urban infrastructure, from stairways to fire hydrants to fences to blank walls.

A full list of the open call selections can be found below, and a complete gallery with images and more information is available at sf.urbanprototyping.org/open-call/projects. We’re very excited to work closely with these teams over the coming months – sketching, building, hacking, and (of course) prototyping!

The open call is one of two ways that new projects are being sourced for the October Exposition. The second is our Urban Makeathon, to be held September 28-30 at Intersection for the Arts and TechShop on the 5M campus. Applications for participation are being accepted on a rolling basis through September 14; the event is free, but space is limited. Apply now at: sf.urbanprototyping.org/makeathon/apply.

If you’re interested in learning more, sharing ideas, supporting UP:SF, or bringing UP to your city, contact us at sf [at] urbanprototyping [dot] org.

Finally, follow the latest developments from UP:SF on Facebook and Twitter!


AnyType is a creative mobile application that lets people transform elements and objects in the physical world into novel digital typefaces. Awarded $300.

Auditory Information will transform a ubiquitous but ignored aspect of our cities—the chain-link fence—into a compelling sonic feature wall. Awarded $1000.

CLIP + SLIDE transforms stairs into slides and musical instruments, creating moments of play and joy in an urban game of chutes and ladders. Awarded $1000.

Darkness Map is a crowd-sourced data visualization that portrays the amount of light and darkness in the nighttime urban environment. Awarded $1000.

Death of the Bench is a flexible, secure, and scalable platform for deploying movable chairs to facilitate flexible and dynamic public spaces. Awarded $1000.

DIY Traffic Counter is a low-cost, open-source measurement device that allows anyone to accurately measure and visualize street traffic counts. Awarded $500.

Fruit Fence is a planting structure tailored for fences in public spaces that features web-enabled sensor devices to improve community care of distributed neighborhood trees. Awarded $900.

Glowing Crosswalk provides increased visibility of pedestrians within a crosswalk at night via high-output LED lamps at crosswalk entrances that will complement existing street lighting. Awarded $500.

INSTANT [play]GROUND is a portable pedestrian-scale gameboard which fits in a suitcase and activates alleys and other neglected sites. Awarded $500.

PPPlanter is a scalable, reconfigurable public urinal and sink using modular biofilters to treat wastewater. Awarded $1000.

Pulse of the City empowers pedestrians with self-awareness of their heart rates in a fun, playful manner with the goal of encouraging a constructive dialogue on how to design the healthier and more livable cities of the future. Awarded $1000.

Shared Cinema is a public video jukebox that activates urban spaces for pedestrians. Awarded $800.

Smart Bus Stops Done Dirt Cheap provides passengers with a text messaging service that answers local questions using a specific bus stop ID’s geo-spatial database. Awarded $500.

Street Sensing uses an Arduino AirCasting sensing platform to transform common light poles into pollution measuring units that give real-time insights into their local air quality. Awarded $1000.

Swings is an installation that gives people a chance to see familiar surroundings from a new perspective using movement and location-sensitive sound mixes. Awarded $500.

The 10-Mile Garden will temporarily convert San Francisco’s fire hydrants into sites for bio-swales or mini gardens, which add green spaces to the city and create a new water system in support of the urban ecology. Awarded $1000.

URBAN_Parasol is a modular series of shelter-shade structures assembled from a combination of open-source design 3D-printed joints and ready-made objects. Awarded $1000.

Wind I Break is a series of modular windbreaks exploring how space can be activated during uncomfortable moments of high wind activity. Awarded $500.


Gray Area Foundation for the Arts (@GAFFTA) is a San Francisco nonprofit bringing together the best creative coders, data artists, designers, and makers to create experiments that build social consciousness through digital culture.... more