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Design firm Our City created a three-day fair in front of the city hall in downtown Oakland with 12 playful projects. Each project was conceived and created by members of the community. The projects displayed were as diverse as the people who built them, but they were all interactive and family-friendly.

For Jake Levitas, founder of Our City, this project means more than providing a few days of entertainment to Oakland residents; it’s about empowering citizens to be more involved in their community. It’s about weaving playfulness and discovery into the fabric of the Oakland culture.

The people of Oakland answered the call to come up with playful designs and installations. Some of the projects included:

  • Scaffoldia: a huge wooden scaffolding structure for kids to climb
  • Tweethaus: a portable piece of furniture for people to sit and share ideas about urban design
  • An organ that’s powered by bicycle pedals
  • A makeshift living room, with two open walls to encourage interaction with others


The fair only last three days, but its impact can be seen and felt to this day. Frank Ogawa Plaza is beginning to be more widely utilized as a place for working people and families alike.

By staging the event in front of City Hall, the transformative effects that play can have were readily apparent to people going to work and doing business with the city. In this way, Our City was able to influence people in leadership positions.


Our City: Oakland Public Design Fair

Our City: Oakland Public Design Fair Summary Report

Photo ©Drew Bird