Design in the built environment
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Design blog about the built environment

SF Design Week - Open Architecture

Combining architecture and design is a simple way to grab my interest. So I was really looking forward to attending this great two part workshop run by the San Francisco chapter of the collective called Open Architecture.

The day commenced with an introduction to the Open Architecture Network and how they volunteer to help community groups get the best outcomes for spaces.

Open Architecture is a network that brings together architects, designers, non-profits, municipalities and local community groups, enabling under served communities to take ownership of collectively created places.

It’s fantastic to see how getting different disciplines together to workshop and exchange ideas can create a great energy.

A tour of the Privately Owned Public Open Space (POPOS) network in San Francisco followed. 

When buildings are developed, part of the planning requires a percentage of the space to be made available to the public. Maps and signs are placed on all buildings to indicate what is available, the open hours and facility accessibility.

It’s a great program and when I spoke to local friends in San Francisco, they didn’t even know it was there!

We explored a number of spaces to understand what has worked, what hasn’t worked and how these spaces have particularly impacted homeless people.

Upon returning to the workshop, the participants collated and grouped our thoughts about what worked, didn’t work and our suggestions for improvements into themes.

We split into three groups - policy, design and promotion.

The outcomes were fantastic! Some of the ideas generated included:

  • Using solar to generate lighting and heating.
  • Increasing public art that isn’t fenced off so that people can sit, climb and enjoy.
  • The addition of sports equipment. For example, a fixed bike with USB port will charge your device while you cycle.
  • Installing shipping containers for creatives or supporting homeless people to sell products or services.
  • Additional plants or gardens that have edible plants for use by locals including local cafes or restaurants.

If you know of any groups like this in Sydney or would like to start something like this let me know at