Free downloadable plans, an assembly manual, sheets of plywood, and access to a Makerspace. Add a little elbow grease and you now have everything needed to print your own urban street furniture. All thanks to WikiBlock, community members can now take placemaking into their own hands, by printing and building their own furniture and street elements.
Started by Better Block Foundation, a non-profit that works to reshape and reactivate communities, WikiBlock empowers communities to create and contribute to the growth of healthy and vibrant neighborhoods. Acting as an open data hub, WikiBlock is a library of print-on-demand placemaking tools used to transform neighborhoods, one street at a time. Users can download free plans for benches, chairs, planters, stages, bus stops, beer garden fences, and kiosks. Once the plans are downloaded and printed, they can be taken to a Makerspace, where a CNC router cuts the design out of plywood.
Most products can be assembled without glue or nails, popping components into place, and can be used instantly. Citizens then have the opportunity to customize the template, allowing for personalization. WikiBlock furniture can serve as temporary installations for sites that are undergoing revitalization; or can be used to test out the potential of a new space; or could help to bridge the gaps that city planners may have over looked. The possibilities are endless due to the semi-permanent, movable nature of the products. Citizens can take their own action, creating an accessible way for locals to step in and solve problems on the spot.
Currently, many of the pieces offered by WikiBlock are being tested in Saint Paul. Here, a pop-up outdoor theater is being constructed by the community using WikiBlock elements. A stage, movie screen, and lighting have all been constructed from WikiBlock designs. Plans are also in place to expand the toolkit with trash cans, playgrounds, and wayfinding signs.
Removing the role of architect, carpenter, or contractors, WikiBlock makes placemaking possible with the help of your local Makerspace. WikiBlock offers a fun, fast and effective way to get citizens involved in shaping their community. This toolkit effectively helps to create spaces where people can connect with their city and each other.