San Francisco, CA

Cesar Rubio
Cesar Rubio
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Sunset Parklet

The Sunset Parklet is a public parklet hosted by Other Avenues Food Store and Sea Breeze Café on Judah St. between 44th and 45th Avenue. The parklet consists of 4 “strips” that undulate along the length of the parklet, providing built-in seating, tables, and native planting. It includes a dog watering area with leash ties to assist dog owners, and a built-in bicycle rack and pump station to engage cyclists.

The ambitious program included seating for eating, a community gathering space, a heavy bicycle parking component, dogs, children’s play, durability and low tech construction, while remaining whimsical, playful and engaging for all of their diverse constituencies and a host of desired seasonal, day, and nighttime activities.

The designers explored the common sculptural aspects of these seemingly divergent formal strategies to arrive at a uniquely san Francisco solution. SF Topography in contrast to the regular SF Street grid became a guiding metaphor for the projects development. Despite a deceptively regular street grid, San Francisco’s topography is famous for its undulations (like waves or sand dunes). Four streets cut from different parts of the city’s fabric would hardly matchup when placed next to one another. They would create juxtapositions along their sectional edges, and this became the operational device for how the Parklet would be articulated.

The entire 50 foot long site was conceptually divided into 4 equal 18” parallel strips which start aligned at he uphill eastern edge – to create an MTA approved Bike Parking platform. Like a coastal edge they continue flat, beach-like, until they suddenly diverge vertically to follow seemingly independent programmatic objectives. Each of the four “street” strips undulate and double back upon themselves becoming seats, lounge chairs, tables, benches, planters, and accessible areas of ground and circulation along the entire length of the Parklet until they all reunite to form a raised planter that shields the windward western edge like the prow of an ancient long-ship.

The individual strips rise and fall creating complex adjacencies as they pass each other enfolding opportunities for a wide variety of programs and a rich diversity of formal “readings”. The final result is unique and exciting in its formal abstraction, while at the same time comforting and highly functional. From some angles it resembles a large barge, or freighter carrying its passengers to the nearby beach, while from the pedestrian approach, it offers a warm complex wood environment as a refuge from the concrete sidewalk in which to relax, play, gather with friends, tell stories, eat lunch, or simply occupy a quiet corner alone with a book surrounded by swaying native grasses.

The pro-bono design project is a monolithic “riff” on the diversity of SF’s street sections – by which four adjacent “streets” undulate and double back to create a rich interplay of ground, seats, lounge chairs, tables, benches, and planters.

Constructed of sustainable and reclaimed materials in Compliance with DPW's Guidelines, this new addition to the popular and growing SF Parklet program challenges the notion of a "cafe Patio" - to produce an elegantly articulated work of sculptural mass that galvanized the greater community around both its political support, and its funding over a grueling two year process to become point of local pride.

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Status: Built
Location: San Francisco, CA, US

Cesar Rubio
Cesar Rubio