Gallery: Talking Public Space and Urban Intervention With San Francisco...


INHABITAT: What can you tell us about upcoming Rebar projects?

MATT: We just got back from Sydney [Australia]. The project we showed there is called “BubbleWare” and it’s essentially a set of yoga balls sheathed in oversize nylon bags. We collaborated with Timbuk2, with whom we share a building, who offered their materials and sewing expertise to help make them. They look sort of like molecules, and are basically oversized inflatable public furniture. We’re hoping to bring those out in public in San Francisco and other parts of the country, to enliven underused public spaces and promote conversation around how ordinary citizens can participate in improving public space. They’re rapidly deployable, they’re fun and they’re inflatable, so they’re sort of the opposite of your average urban materials., They’re soft, they’re nonlinear and they’re colorful. We deployed them in an alleyway in Syndey and provoked a range of reactions, from studied ignorance to uninhibited engagement. But either way, they cause people to think more expansively, even if just for a moment, about the range of possibilities for urban public space.

INHABITAT: How did Rebar get its start?

MATT: Rebar started around a project called the Cabinet National Library. We were inspired by an art magazine in Brooklyn called Cabinet, which had bought a piece of land in New Mexico on eBay and invited cultural events and installations to occur on the land. I actually to them  a “National Library,” which would be a file cabinet in an earthen berm that would house all the back issues of their magazine. They thought that was great and hilarious. At the time, one of my friends, John Bela, was in graduate school studying landscape architecture, and we started talking about this project. We eventually developed a plan, and we built it in 2004. Following that very fruitful collaboration, we decided to create an organization, call ourselves Rebar, and pursue more projects. The second project was “PARK(ing),” which evolved into Park(ing) Day. Once that project blew up, there were so many opportunities, and so much interest in our work, that we really needed to form an organization and develop ourselves creatively.

INHABITAT: What can you tell me about the inspiration behind Park(ing) Day, and how is Rebar staying involved as the project grows?

MATT: We first did [PARK(ing) Day] on Mission Street, here in San Francisco. It started with occupying one parking space for two hours, which was the term of the lease offered on the face of the parking meter.


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