Selected Project The Play Station
The Play Station. Concept art courtesy of the project team.
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Prototypers

Emily Peckenham
Urbanist

Ivan Rodriguez
Industrial Engineer and Permaculture Designer

Deland Chan
Professor of Urban Studies at Stanford University

David Yao
VP of Design Engineering at Kenu


Location

RETAIL HEART

Retail Heart

Step into The Play Station SF and have more fun on Market Street.

Play is for everyone.
But there’s really nowhere to play on Market Street.

Placing free, public workout equipment in a public space is a radical way to invite everyone to workout, play, and feel good – right on a city sidewalk. Community starts with a shared experience. The Play Station invites anyone to look up, get curious, and start playing. Don’t just wait – play. How far can you go while you wait for the bus?

Most days, Market Street is a gray and dreary concrete jungle serving as a depressing backdrop for long lines of commuters, locals, and tourists eagerly scanning the horizon for a glimpse of a long-awaited MUNI vehicle. Lack of seating at overcrowded bus stops leads to clusters of people tired, cold, and huddled people on the curb while exposed to sporadic wind gusts; many stare down at their phones in desperation to transport their mind elsewhere and forget that their bodies are imprisoned in their current predicament. This is the perfect environment to install Play Station— an immersive on-sidewalk experience that encourages fitness, play, competition, and laughter— enhancing the dreaded experiencing of waiting.

Play Station invites participation at all levels. Some can engage in friendly competition by hopping on vintage exercise bikes and “racing” each other on a simulated cycling tour throughout SF neighborhoods, or they can sit and observe while enjoying the “park” environment of Play Station. Play Station is fully off-the-grid and harnesses kinetic energy to make the experience people-powered, from vintage exercise bikes to a hand-cranked rotating umbrella that brightens the streetscape and invites individual play and exercise.

Market Street’s hardscape environment of concrete and brick feels unwelcoming, chilly, and unnatural. Play Station provides texture and color with an immersive experience for participants, from a bright green turf covered floor and fluttering colorful nylon triangular sails overhead to potted palms rustling in the corner. Play Station makes use of durable, upcycled, and reusable materials to create a vibrant, interactive environment with a whimsical element on the sidewalks of Market Street. The on-sidewalk play oasis isn’t just fun for people on the sidewalk; its colorful accents will be visible from across the street and above from neighboring buildings.

Play Station visitors have the opportunity to hop on a vintage exercise bike to “Bike SF” and learn how far they could have cycled just while they waited for the bus. A simple cyclecomputer indicates how far they’ve pedaled and a custom graphic on each bike presents a map of downtown San Francisco with a radius of circles overlaid to indicate how far they could have gone if they were on an actual bicycle. Additional language educates visitors about transportation, cycling, and San Francisco topography. As an equally fun and accessible options, people who cannot bike are welcome to try their hand at rotating the kinetic umbrella, or just sit and relax while observing Market Street streetlife.

Play Station encourages visitors to move their bodies instead of standing around, and at the same time, provides a space for friendly competition and interaction. While outdoor analog exercise equipment is common in many cities worldwide, this is an exciting opportunity to bring this concept to the United States. PlayStation provides an experimental space that feels part of the Market Street sidewalk, yet is visually distinct with its bright colors and textures, inviting curious pedestrians to stop by and providing temporary reprieve to bored commuters.

Learn more about The Play Station.


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The Market Street Prototyping Festival is a collaboration between the San Francisco Planning Department and the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts.

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