With the cube as our unit

Before we begin outreach for the Uni, we’ve been taking a moment to reflect on what brought us here.

Why the cube?

On one hand, the Uni is a practical effort to pack the Storefront Library into a box and take it places where people already gather: parks, plazas, farmers’ markets, playgrounds, even other vacant storefronts. The cube form is certainly efficient to pack and move. (When we approached HY Architecture, our project outline included the interior dimensions of a Penske 16″ box truck. Still does.)

A cube is also striking. Although the cube is the unit of measure of much of what we encounter in urban space, you don’t often see the cube intentionally extracted and made prominent. We think a cube will be eye-catching, and we want to draw attention to the Uni and its mission. We also view the cube as a challenge to ourselves (and others) to see how much excellent programming for public space can be fit in eight cubic feet. We think this effort will resonate with urban dwellers who have chosen smaller personal spaces at home in exchange for more dynamic, shared, public space that we all need to share.

Here are some of the first conceptual drawings produced by HY Architecture right after they agreed to take on the challenge of making our eight foot cube a reality. Although we’ve moved in exciting, new design directions since then, we keep these “sugar cube” drawings pinned up. They are like baby pictures—we fondly recall a moment in our past, and we see hints of our future captured there.

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The Uni is a project of Street Lab, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization.