Room for Thought: a Market Street Prototyping Festival installation

Room for Thought: a Market Street Prototyping Festival installation

How do we create more opportunities for both playful interaction and quiet introspection, in an increasingly dense urban landscape? Room for Thought synthesized these two objectives in the form of an urban prototype, which combined an interactive light installation with an experimental mind-matter interaction technology.

This WRNS Scholarship project was a 3-day public installation for San Francisco’s Market Street Prototyping Festival 2015. The event featured 50 urban prototypes from 50 design teams, showcasing small scale tactical urbanist strategies for rethinking public space on Market Street.

From the website,

This April, for the first time ever, Market Street will transform into a public platform, showcasing exciting ideas for improving our famed civic spine and how we use it.

The goal of the Prototyping Festival is to unite diverse neighborhoods along Market Street, encouraging these vibrant communities to work with designers, artist and makers to build a more connected, beautiful San Francisco. This unique collaboration is a partnership between the San Francisco Planning Department, the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts and the Knight Foundation. A diverse jury of more than 50 makers, artists, thought leaders and community stakeholders reviewed the hundreds of submissions received… Ideas were chosen based on their creativity, sense of community, potential to make Market Street a more vibrant public space and ability to identify Market Street as uniquely San Francisco.

Concept Design

Several decades of popular research have demonstrated that consciousness—our observations and intentions—can influence the behavior of sensitive chaotic systems, which is based on quantum mechanics. While its explanation remains a mystery, mind-matter interaction tells a profound story: that our minds may be deeply connected to our physical environment, as well as to each other.

Room for Thought was a series of 3 lighted mini-pavilions utilizing this mind-matter interaction technology: each floating “duck-in” cone was the size of a small room, providing a sense of interiority and respite from the crowd. Within, the tactile interior and intention-responsive interactive lights invited passersby to engage with the space, as well as pause for solitary contemplation and unexpected social encounters with others. 

Installation & Reception

In a city that embraces innovative grassroots ideas and groundbreaking new technology, Room for Thought was an extremely popular project that generated public interest in new technologies, as well as prompted crowd engagement with public spaces. The project team hopes to continue developing spatial and technological platforms that spawn new possibilities, while exploring profound ideas about the nature of consciousness and human inter-connectivity.

Project Team

Jane Chua (Design lead)

Adam Curry (Tech lead)