Rebar - KaBOOM! News

August 16, 2011 Kerala Taylor

Bright ideas: An inflatable playground

We've all heard of "Bring Your Own Beverage," but what about "Bring Your Own Playground?" With the Bushwaffle, a "personal space softening device" (PSSD), pioneered by the design studio Rebar, citizens can furnish plazas, parks, and other public spaces with inflatable cushions that serve as chairs, building blocks, or mini-trampolines.

Here's how Rebar describes them:

"Bushwaffle invite new forms of social interaction, collaboration, improvisation, and play... Bushwaffle are also entirely kid-friendly, their bright color and playful shape encourage cooperation and play among friends and new acquaintances... Bushwaffle float, slide, roll and bounce, and are easily moved by a large enough crowd, even when in formation."


See Bushwaffle in action:

Images courtesy of Rebar. See other playful innovations from Rebar.

PARKing DayFriday was a bad day to be looking for a parking space. That's because hundreds of them were transformed into temporary public parks as part of PARK(ing) Day, an annual global event. The event is organized by Rebar, a San Francisco art and design studio.

As Rebar points out, "Paying the meter of a parking space enables one to lease precious urban real estate on a short-term basis." The event evolved from a single PARK that Rebar erected in 2005 (pictured left), which consisted of sod, a bench, and a single tree. Rebar says:

Our original PARK stood in place for two hours – the term of the lease offered on the face of the parking meter. When the meter expired, we rolled up the sod, packed away the bench and the tree, and gave the block a good sweep, and left. A few weeks later, as a single iconic photo of the intervention... traveled across the web, Rebar began receiving requests to create the PARK(ing) project in other cities.

Since then, people around the world have added their own creative twists to the concept, using metered parking spaces to play hopscotch, breakdance, and hold chess tournaments, among other activities. See photos from Friday's event:


Learn more about PARK(ing) Day here.

Other bright ideas:


Los Angeles StreetWide streets send a clear message: We are for cars. Sidewalks seem to exist as an afterthought to the multiple lanes full of rushing, honking, exhaust-belching vehicles.

Narrow streets, by contrast, offer a more peaceful, intimate, and pedestrian-friendly atmosphere. By necessity, cars move more slowly. Proportionally, sidewalks are larger. A narrow street invites people to stroll, gather, and play.

Look at this striking contrast between a real Los Angeles street (left) and a digitally narrowed version of the same street (right):

Los Angeles Street Los Angeles Street

Which one would you rather walk on?

Real streets, unfortunately, cannot be altered in Photoshop. But narrowing a road is not as complex as you might think. Rebar, a San Francisco art and design collective, has created a bamboo-sheathed module that extends the sidewalk surface into the street and includes benches, planters, bike racks, or tables. Each module is about three feet wide and can be installed by two to four people, with minimal tools.

The project is currently in its pilot phase and is being tested on a San Francisco street for six months:


Learn more about Walklets and Rebar.

 Photo credits (top to bottom):

Other bright ideas: