San Francisco is a city at war with itself, and no area exemplifies this better than Central Market. The tourist flow abruptly stops at the Hallidie Plaza, and people walking down from the crowded and vibrant Retail area will suddenly wonder if they’re still on Market Street; the area is rundown, sketchy and mostly occupied by struggling low-end businesses, theaters, and the homeless.
Our project aims to bring vibrancy back. We propose to install interactive lights that light up Central Market and connect Hallidie Plaza with UN Plaza as pedestrians step on pressure sensors embedded on the sidewalks. The organic pattern of the lights, which create the illusion of “shimmering skies,” will keep changing with the lights affected by the varying timing and progression of the pressure sensors stepped by the pedestrians.
Shimmering Skies will lure pedestrians on opposite sides of Central Market to come around and see the source of the beautiful light that seems to be hovering right above the streets. With the lights attracting the pedestrians to cross over the invisible boundary to Central Market, foot traffic will increase and consequently lighten up the street even more.
For those who are already on Central Market, Shimmering Skies will create a beautiful haven-like space for pedestrians who may initially be wary of the bareness of the street. It will also create a space for playfulness, as some may even try to control the lights by jumping back and forth--from one pressure sensor to another. The resulting Shimmering Skies will be an interactive collective work of ark of the pedestrians.
A mobile phone app will allow others not on the street to see Shimmering Skies and be inspired by the emerging pattern. It will also give Central Market a new reputation and Shimmering Skies would become the reason for residents and tourists to visit Central Market and enjoy participating in the collective effort. The lights would effectively turn the whole street into a playground in which adults, too, can take part.
Using prevalent technology of LEDs and sensors, Shimmering Skies would be both easy and inexpensive to implement. This concept could be taken further to incorporate virtual interactions from mobile app users controlling some portions of the lights, and this would include more people to participate.
Central Market needs more pedestrians to make it as vibrant as its neighbor, Retail Heart. No one wants Market Street to end abruptly right in the middle. Since people always want to participate in their immediate community, whether it is a permanent or transient one for them Shimmering Skies is the perfect solution.
Shimmering Skies would effectively bring art (the lights) to Central Market with an intuitive interactive interface (the pressure sensors) that turns the street into a playground where pedestrians can have fun by simply walking and stepping on sensors on the floor. It would also bring a sense of safety to the street, as the street will be covered with the colorful light above.
Feedback from pedestrians (both local residents and travelers) that gauges their participation, their enthusiasm for Shimmering Skies, how their view of Central Market changed, and whether they would recommend visiting Central Market to other family and friends would be asked. Any positive feedback would allow us to evaluate whether this project was successful or not.
If you like this idea, "me too" it to stay updated on it's progress. Feel free to share your insights in the "How can you help?" section. If you'd like to get involved with this project, let us know. You can fill out a volunteer form to help with the overall festival here