Urban Alchemy Oasis
Area: 7,625 sf/
Location: San Francisco, CA/
typology: Activation, Public/
year: 2022/ /
Transforming an unloved and dangerous urban lot into an interim park space full of greenery, compassion and beauty.
Our work with Urban Alchemy began with Safe Passage Park, where they have been instrumental in its success through ongoing daily stewardship, and has continued with the design and development of the Urban Alchemy Oasis. During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, this corner parking lot, with sidewalks rendered impassable by tents, made global headlines. Directly across from a fenced playground and one of the few parks in the area, the site was known as the nation’s largest open-air drug markets. Together, we transformed what was once a perilous area into a vibrant, greened community sanctuary.
Urban Alchemy (UA) has been an invaluable partner and resource, working within and building a community in the Tenderloin District of San Francisco. A peacekeeping presence, this social enterprise has reversed hundreds of overdoses, maintained street cleanliness, enhanced safety, and become a powerful steward of the streets. Their team brings a level of empathy and compassion that can only come from those that have lived experience to draw from. At the Oasis, Urban Alchemy originally intended to create a deployment and training center for its hundreds of practitioners who support the neighborhood. Faced with the growing crisis during COVID, founders soon pivoted to envisioning this space as an opportunity to further build community, gifting two-thirds of the site back to the neighborhood.
Working with the Urban Alchemy team, we created a park for peaceful adults to come to sit, play games, and enjoy free coffee, tea, and water, in a safe, clean environment. Trees lining the fenceline provide shade and a pop of green, and will be repurposed as neighborhood street trees when the interim project draws to a close. The site also features a lush dog park, the only place in the Tenderloin where pets can run freely off-leash, against the backdrop of the “Rivers to the Sky” mural by Adrian Arias and The Luggage Store.