When REBAR first started, they were just a group of landscape designers with a frisky idea of what was and wasn’t an appropriate use of space in the city. They mapped, flew kites, and napped in San Francisco’s Privately Owned Public Spaces (POPOs for short). They turned September 21st into an international day of occupying parking spaces with astroturf, hay bales, the occasional hula hoop, and a very large sack of quarters.
Now, as part of San Francisco’s Pavement to Parks program, the parking spaces in front of three storefronts – Revolution Cafe, Escape From New York Pizza, and Lolo – will be turned into a vaguely modernist-looking social space built out of wood and metal shapes that bolt together and into the curb.
If Pavement to Parks (four locations so far, designed by several different architects) is deemed a success by the different city organizations that oversee it, anyone in the city will be able to apply for a permit to replace the parking space in front of their business or home with a parklet. Those applying for space for commercial use will pay the city based on the amount of seating the area will contain. Those petitioning for non-commercial use will have no permit fees at all, though they will still have to pay the cost of building out the space.
As of now, REBAR’s workshop in the Mission smells like varnish. Ambitious plans are afoot. The modules are a prototype designed by REBAR, as an experiment in – well – building semi-permanent social space out of LEGO-like modules. They walk the fine line between too permanent to steal, but not so permanent that they can’t be moved on to a different location, or swapped out with other components. The project is about a week behind schedule, but plans are to install it this coming Tuesday.