Promoting Beauty while Eliminating Waste

Having to go to the bathroom in the midst of a shopping day in San Francisco can be a frustrating hassle, often necessitating buying the cheapest thing on a café menu to be allowed to use the facilities, or weighing the grossness of the public stall against the pressure in your bladder. Contrast this scenario with the “coolest public bathrooms in the world”, which happen to be in Austin.

The structure is a spiral shaped by various sizes of metal rectangles — some taller, some shorter – that are spaced further apart from each other at the entrance to the bathroom (and the tail end of the spiral) and get increasingly closer together until they form a solid wall around the toilet in the center.  This design could be used in other scenarios, too, where privacy is the issue, such as around a backyard hot tub or half a spiral around a seating or changing area. The possibilities are dizzying.

Friendly Fences

Leave it to a garden designer to go to one of the world’s premier music and media conferences and return home with a ton of pictures of…..fences. This horizontal wooden fence is not only stylish in its simplicity and departure from the more common vertical alignment, it is also a “smart” fence, with two of the sides having gaps between the slats but the side shared with the neighbors being solid and allowing for more privacy.

This is another example of experimenting with openings to make a fence more fun. Again, a boundary is built but it looks more akin to art rather than an element of some strict, impermeable fortress.

The metal gate provides continuity by using the same rust color as the wooden fence but plays with the vertical dimension rather than the horizontal.

This shorter fence is almost like a sturdy lattice. The open squares allow the olive trees to be visible from the other side which, if you think about it, is a very efficient use of beauty!

Multiple Issues, One Solution

Is it possible to create a sense of privacy living on a busy San Francisco street? How can you successfully grow plants amidst a daily afternoon windstorm? What if you love the look of a Marin County meadow but are committed to City living? The answer is found in just a few planter boxes.

Separation between home and outside is achieved with a few clumps of juncus, a grass-like plant known as a “rush”. With its rounded blades, juncus also offers an organic and pretty windbreak, bending with the fog rather than getting tattered as would a more fragile species. Between natives like blue fescue and Pacific iris, and culinary favorites such as rosemary and lavender, the look is natural and subtle. It conjures visions of a wildflower-studded meadow, and causes the owner, who travels up north for the good surf, to dub the design a “Bolinas-themed garden”. Add the happy faces of orange pansies and the crepe-paper petals of Iceland poppies (plus some California poppy seeds in the soil, awaiting summer) for fun splashes of color.

Holding the entire Bolinas-themed garden together are planter boxes made by Small Spot Gardens from reclaimed redwood and cedar from Building Resources, a non-profit organization located in Bayview that’s dedicated to reusing materials in the built environment.