Kuth Ranieri Architects’ pavilion made out of cardboard Sonotubes (prefabricated tubular formwork for casting concrete), created for this year’s Market Street Prototyping Festival in San Francisco, has earned the firm a People’s Choice award.

Designed and built alongside three dozen other installations, the pavilion—dubbed SonoGROTTO—is made out of a bundle of cardboard Sonotubes varying between 6, 10, and 24 inches in width that are bolted together and carved into a sheltered seating area. Overall, the pavilion’s proportions are equal to those of a cube, with circular sections carved out from the overall mass. Certain Sonotubes extend all the way to the ground and support the structure while others are sliced up along curving profiles, creating the benches, thresholds, and openings that animate the pavilion. The pavilion, designed to be located on an active street, creates what the designers dub as an urban “grotto,” containing areas sheltered by a vaulted ceiling punctured by an oculus that offers views to the sky. In a press release explaining the project, the architects state, “Porous enough to retain a strong connection with its surroundings, yet enclosed enough to provide a safe haven, SonoGROTTO allows people to explore and rest simultaneously. SonoGROTTO offers a space for reflection, refuge, and a myriad of alternate uses for all ages.”

The festival was sponsored by the San Francisco Department of City Planning and Yerba Buena Center for the Art. It’s also the by-product of extensive community outreach by the department aimed at uncovering new, innovative ideas for enhancing the quality of life along Market Street in downtown San Francisco. As such, the festival organizers sought to engage at the community level through a design-oriented street festival. The three-day festival brought thousands out onto the Market Street corridor along three areas spanning from the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts on one end to the Embarcadero on the other to display a myriad of pavilion ideas that spanned in concept from architectural follies and performance-oriented displays to even, a miniature forest. 

For more information on the other pavilions, see the festival website.

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