San Francisco CA
OPspace is a pilot project conducted as an elective design/build studio at California College of the Arts. Using a “Zipcar” style short-term rental model accessible through an open-source Internet forum, the project transforms vacant inner city real estate spaces through a design framework that fosters a variety of community-driven occupations.
The design of OPspace was driven by the multi-layered conditions of spatial performance central to the project’s socio-economic strategies for urban revitalization. After researching local demographics, students worked with members of the community to propose five programs defined by different aggregations of a modular system: a lecture hall, fashion show, exhibition space, tasting room and bike kitchen. Different configurations of the modular system supported different uses determined by the user. OPspace provides communities a means to fill the void left by empty storefronts and to reactivate the cultural and economic development of their neighborhoods.
The inclusion of the project’s technical requirements, constrained by the formal variation of each module and its use, necessitated details with extreme tolerances that could only be achieved by using digital fabrication technologies. Students learned and used current CNC tools to help generate, visualize and build the project. Building information modeling (BIM) software was used to organize each part of the design and ensure the successful operation of each module for every configuration.
During the 3rd ZERO1 San Jose Biennial, OPspace was installed inside WORKS Gallery, where students tested the design and selected programs with the local community. The real-time testing of the prototype provided feedback on its potential to initiate a new form of open source urbanism. OPspace has since travelled to other venues, where new users have leveraged the versatility of the design for their own agenda. The school has continued to support these experimental design/build initiatives, partly due to the continued success of OPspace.
OP Space consists of five different modules. Each module is defined by three sections which operate like the leaves of an expandable table. By opening the sections, surface orientation changes, thus a wall becomes a table, a chair becomes a shelf, etc. The flexible, user-directed design required details that were highly specific but also multi-functional. To achieve this level of structural and functional performance, hundreds of unique components were exported directly from the digital model to a CNC milling machine. The digital model was unfolded, labeled and milled, allowing for the quick and efficient assembly of what would have otherwise been a difficult and labor-intensive construction project.
Though a continuous surface, differentiation of the interior is expressed through varied combinations of form, use and material. The exterior of OPspace is a billboard, identifying the brand and drawing in customers, but it is also a programmatic surface allowing additional uses like the display of merchandise, storage, and the attachment of uniquely designed accessories. Voids are carved out from the profile to reduce weight and store seats. Fastening devices, lighting and other systems are integrated with structure, which is also shaped and perforated to ease the moving and reconfiguration of each module.
OPspace stands for OPportunities, OPen and OPerable and embodies the objectives of the ZERO1 San Jose Biennial, “Build Your Own World and Citizen Science” by giving the public an inhabitable topography composed of hexagonal sections that operate as a kit of parts for different configurations. Based on an analysis of our research phase, a set of umbrella program categories and anchor programs were established to support bottom-up occupation. The brand of OPspace identifies five local program categories: OPtaste, OPscene, OPexhibit, OPlab and OPshop, each of which hosts a series of occupations supported by the flexible architecture. OPspace became a living lab that, due to its flexibility, is able support the needs and desires of the neighborhood.
OPspace was a collaboration with Mona El Khafif and CCA.