Selected Project 27 Steps
27 Steps. Concept art courtesy of the project team.

Nish Kothari

Anesta Iwan

Innovation Hangar Team
Project Partners

Adonis Gaitatzis
Lighting Designer

Will Giovacchini

Gabriel Larsen Santos
Fundraising Director

Craig and Kevin at Metal Magic
Metal Fabricators

Aurelia Friedland
Interaction Designer

Steve Pepple
Design Technologist

Grant Ryan
Sound Composer

Stephanie Geerlinger
Interactive Designer




Market Street has always been the venue to voice, protest for, and celebrate for peace; “27 Steps” reminds us of this journey through Mandela’s 27 years at Robben Island.

The peaceful march to protest the war on Iraq on Market Street is a moment etched in our memory. Similar stories of the Vietnam War were narrated to us. A first hand experience demonstrate to us the power of a voice of a city. Market Street has always been the venue to voice, to protest, to celebrate, to walk for peace. The Market Street fair offers such a opportunity again, not for a protest, but for a walk for peace in a celebratory environment.

Our proposal titled “27 Steps” is a walk for Mandela – a walk for peace. The Bay Area has supported anti-apartheid movement, with local politicians such as Ron Dellums and celebrities like Whoopi Goldberg and Pedro Noguera, the UC Berkeley student body president in 1985, have supported Mandela long before his release to freedom. As a remnant of Mandela’s World Tour to the Bay Area (1990), our proposal resonates Mandela’s struggle and aligns his anti-apartheid voice with the voice of San Francisco.

The pavilion is a walk of twenty seven steps. Two pyramids open the gateway to this path. The void stands for how Mandela inverted the political pyramid by cultivating a culture of forgiveness. The “Invictus” poem that guided Mandela through his 27 years in prison is narrated as one walks this path (via sensor-activated speakers). Recorded narration by those who have personally met and were touched by Mandela will also be heard through the walk.

By night, it becomes a lantern of hope.

The Mandela piece is here for three days to offer a space where both visitors as well as those who live on the streets of Market to come together and walk the same walk as equals – to walk for hope, for peace, and for a common purpose. We would also like to invite relevant leaders, philanthropists, friends, and mentees of Mandela to the Market Street Fair to walk these 27 steps, to reinforce the message of peace and equality.

In the larger context, we see this as an opportunity to build this exhibit as a traveling pavilion. Our hope is offer this walk in other venues in America, Europe, Asia, and South Africa (Apartheid Museum). This is a prototype which we would like to further develop (in terms of the materials and means of construction) to have the strength and flexibility needed to live for more than a year. Sustainable local materials will be the basis of design.

This is a pilgrimage for all, however the roots of the message starts here in our unique city San Francisco, a place we call home.

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Support 27 Steps on Indiegogo

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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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