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Oct 14, 2015

The Parklet: From Beginning to End

At the end of August, our dreams of building a public parklet finally came true. Thanks to our designer, Oblio Jenkins, and a hardworking build team, the parklet is now finished and open to the public. Take a peek at the timelapse below to see its evolution from start to finish. Here, Oblio talks about what inspired his design and the history behind some of the methods he utilized.

Dandelion Chocolate – Parklet Construction on Vimeo.

When designing architectural spaces, I feel the duty to incorporate the context of the project into its construction in as many ways as I can. The ideas and inspirations behind the design of this parklet emerged from three different types of context:

The Client

Dandelion has three principles or concepts that they use to guide their brand decisions: craftsman, exquisite, and intimate. These three principles gave me a solid conceptual foundation to work with. I knew, if I somehow incorporated those ideas into my thinking about this project that it would align with their brand values. A spatial example of how “intimate” worked itself into the parklet is the bench seating underneath the canopy. The bench seating is a more intimate space in contrast to the open bar area, which is more social. The “craftsman” appeal is enforced by the hand-chiseled wood, as well as by the juxtaposition of metalworking and woodworking, both of which have ancient histories. What is most interesting to me is how can I integrate these ancient crafts with emerging modern crafts – in this case waterjet/plasma cutting (which is computer controlled) with hand manipulated wood.

Screen Shot 2015-10-13 at 4.52.35 PM

The Site

F3Another type of context is the site—in this case, Valencia Street. Just after I started the project, I was walking out of a meeting and stopped at the tree in front of the store. At the base of the tree I was admiring the cast iron grates (which I had seen many, many times before) but now, because I was tasked to design something directly adjacent to them, I was inspired to riff off of the grates in some way. I love the pattern (which is an ancient Moorish off set circle design). I think the symmetry and texture are beautiful. So at that moment I knew the floor or deck of the parklet would some how relate to the grates. Instead of trying to copy them, I thought it was more interesting to explore their patterns and texture.The cast iron grates have a nice depth to them, so for one side of my grate I decided to create a similar relief by using two layers of sheet metal. On the other side I flattened the pattern into one single layer – which reads totally differently but is a direct lineage from the tree grate pattern. The original tree grate also has an opening for the tree which is expressed with concentric circles, so I decided to celebrate the two front columns that support the canopy and trellis overhead with a similar pattern. This is also a bit of a historical reference; in the history of architecture, the tree was the first column. So I could not resist playing off that idea.

The Craft

Yet another context is fabrication, or how furniture and architecture are being produced in this modern age, and with what tools, crafts, and materials. I am a strong believer in the integration of old and new types making. This design incorporates a wide range of old and new forms of craftsmanship. The wood texture (a la Peter Gutkin) was created by hand chiseling. The grate files were drawn by me in the computer and cut with a CNC waterjet. The support brackets were cut with a CNC plasma cutter and the structural frames were hand-cut and hand-drilled. I think the only way to truly merge different materials and craft is to have a team of skilled and committed craftspeople. If you are able to develop the details and assembly strategy together, the project will always be better for it. We were fortunate to have that type of team on this project.

It is very nice to see something that you created be used and seen by so many people. It was a great pleasure to work with the team, and I appreciate very much the opportunity to create this parklet for Dandelion. For a few of my inspirations, see the references below.


Inspirations – Search:

The Primitive Hut

Carlos Scarpa

Waterjet Cutting

Plasma Cutting

Moorish off set circle pattern

Valencia street grates

Design Build Team:

Design – Oblio Jenkins

Wood Fabrication – Peter Gutkin

Metal Fabrication – Jeff Burwell



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