Livable Body Livable City




Introduction: Livable Body Livable City

This project was installed as part of the 2016 Market Street Prototyping Festival.

Many of us move through the city generally unconcerned with how it’s organization guides & affects us; likewise many of us live ‘in’ our bodies unaware of how our own internal organization guides & affects us. Realizing that we can affect real changes in both is a first step. Examining the two in relationship—internal environment & external environment—sheds light on how they co-create each other, and how we might better embody both ourselves and the city to create more livable bodies, more livable cities.

The activities described in this post were designed to give people a fairly immediate 'taste' of an internal shift--through rest, widening their visual field, inverting their legs, playing with their center of gravity and playfully shifting posture. To read more about the underlying concepts, visit

This Instructable includes the 4 built components of our project:

  1. Legs Up the Wall / Lean Your Back Structure
  2. Bench with 'Posture' Planters
  3. Standing Canvas Flags (Body Truism Pieces)
  4. Scale Frame Structure

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Step 1: Legs Up the Wall


10x 2x4x8' construction grade lumber

40x 1x3x6' construction grade lumber, or nicer wood (these will be the slats)

14x 1/2" x 2.5" carriage bolts

14x 1/2" nuts

14x 1/2" washers

wood screws

drill with hammer option

Sanding Paper

Outdoor Paint of your choice


  1. Cut 2 x 4's to the lengths described in the drawing. Please note the 64.5" only describes its partial length. We adjusted some of these angles and lengths as we went.
  2. ADDITIONALLY, cut 4 pieces to act as braces (see photo of hand holding one of these.)
  3. ADDITIONALLY, you'll need an extra 69 7/8" length to reinforce the center of the slats where people will lay.
  4. We ended up making the foot rest 16" long instead of 12". If you decided to do this, you'll need to cut 2 approximately 12" high 2x4 for feet to support the foot rest. The height depends on how high you place the foot perch.
  5. Once cut, lay each side out and make sure all angles are correct.
  6. Drill 1/2" holes where they overlap. Drill through to mark the 2nd piece of wood to ensure that they line up. Include the 4 wooden braces to connect the legs up 2x4's with the back rest 2x4's.
  7. Place the bolts and nuts.


  1. With help, place each side at the upright and screw in first slats so the structure stands.
  2. We used a 1/2" piece of wood as a spacer between the slats as we screwed them on. Decide what looks and feels best to you.
  3. Continue until all slats have been placed, both sides.
  4. This can now be deconstructed by UNBOLTING. You will have flat pieces with the slats attached for easy transport and reconstruction.

Step 4: ET VOILA...

We painted all the 2x4's gray and sanded the slats, for a more finished look.

I also used masking tape to 'draw' a figure laying with her legs up the wall to suggest to people how they might try resting on this structure.

Step 5: Posture Planters - Activity Instructions

This activity repositions our pelvis in relation to gravity, then the rest of our body gets to respond in new ways to this generally new sensation of standing upright. See instructions on loaded image. Most people have to walk their feet in more than they realize. Also most need to then shift their upper back directly back…If you have more questions, please contact me. The cool thing about placing this in public is that once experienced, people can imagine the block to recreate the sensation of this new orientation to gravity and themselves. Likewise, the same activity can be done with a block placed flush with a wall instead of mounted on a rod.

Step 6: Posture Planters - Assembly Instructions

We placed these planters on either end of a wooden bench, and attached them to the legs. This is necessary to stabilize them. You could likewise stabilize a single planter by adding a bottom to the box and filling it with soil/plants/weight, thus no bench necessary!


• 2 1x4x10 lumbar

• 2 2x2x3 cut pieces of nicer wood

• 2 Pieces of EMT metal conduit, cut to about 4' high. Sharp end dulled.

• 2 yoga blocks

• 2 metal plates with holes drilled into them (see photo)

• 4 metal braces

• 3/4" drill bit

• 18 3" wood screws for yoga blocks

2 flat round magnets with 3/4" hole (found at hardware store) epoxy

Step 7: Build a Basic Box, Then Mount Poles

We've chosen not to include steps for this...much can be found online other places for these basics.


Using a level & pencil, bolt EMT to the inside of the planter box, we used 2 metal mounts per piece of conduit. As per the photo, we drilled a hole through the top frame of the box to give the rod more stability (and elegance!).

Step 8: Make Blocks

This is like putting a lego together...!

  1. Drill a hold into each small wooden block (use 3/4" bit)
  2. Screw metal plate into each of these, on either side of the hole
  3. Dab epoxy onto plate, press into side of yoga block. Let set.
  4. Fix screws into block through plates
  5. The magnet remains separate. **We left a small amount of the metal plate showing below each small wooden block so that the magnet could attach itself directly to the plate as well as to the metal conduit. Might not be necessary, but works well to allow you slide the block up and down and then have it rest wherever it is placed.

Step 9: Scale Frame Structure

The idea behind this structure to place each foot on a different scale to watch how your center of gravity is affected by small and large movements alike. Likewise, it's a way of gathering information about yourself--how much weight do you normally stand with on each leg?

Although the piece was extremely popular--almost everyone who passed by tried it out (to our surprise!)--the actual design of this piece was not structurally sound.

Secondly, we built a frame around the 4 scales so no one could take them off of the street. In doing so, it was difficult for people to stand with their entire foot on each scale (most heels ended up on the 2x4).

We recommend placing the scales slightly further apart, sinking them into a floored structure and fixing the bottom of the scale to the structure, rather than placing something on top of the scale to hold it in place.

Therefore, we're including photos, but not going to share details of length etc. *We did end up switching the design so there was an angle away from the scales instead of a 90 wall.

Step 10: Body Truism Flags

These 'flags' stand up on their own. The bases are heavy enough to keep them upright, but light enough to easily place and replace around the space.


  • Paving stones (1 7x10x2 OR 2 7x7x2 for each stand)
  • Hammer drill with 5/8" bit
  • EMT conduit, cut to desired height
  • Canvas
  • Heavy duty thread (polyester covered)
  • Sewing machine/Iron
  • Ruler
  • Sharpie Marker

Step 11: Sew Flags

Canvas is relatively easy to sew. I used a heavy duty sewing machine, heavy duty polyester covered thread, with Denim needles. Do not use upholstery thread which can easily jam your machine. This was my first sewing job and I kept it simple. I left holes on the top so you can choose to slide the EMT all the way through. Alternatively, it will catch and hold on the top seam, which is how I preferred them to look (EMT not sticking through the top.)

  1. Make a template: Because of the size of the paving stones and EMT (1/2" which requires a 5/8" hole) these can only be so wide. I chose a 6" width between stitch lines, leaving 3" on each side to make pathway for the rods.
  2. With the canvas, I found that pins or tape were not necessary, it held the iron line strongly enough to feed through the machine.
  3. Once a long rectangle has been cut, iron top and bottom seam, and sew.
  4. Iron side seam and fold for rod, and sew. (fold, fold, iron, slide...keep folding, folding iron...slide)

Step 12: Hire Someone to Drill Holes for You...OR...

Do it yourself with a hammer drill, 5/8" bit and a spray bottle to keep the bit cool the entire time. Be warned that a hammer drill is a mini jack hammer. Certainly workable, but a lot of work and I found it was a bit much on my nerves (literally--left me buzzing in a bad way for many hours afterwards).

MARK THE STONE: Using an already sewn flag, thread the EMT rods into it. This way you can see the exact distance needed between the 2 holes. I heavily marked the bottom of the EMT with blue colored pencil, it leaves a visible mark on the stone.

Please consider finding s/o who has drilled a lot of stone in their life for whom this will be a straight forward job!

Step 13: Place Flag Into Stone!

I doubled the square stones atop each other for more stability. Not all of the holes matched up perfectly enough to thread the EMT through both, so I put one rod through one and then the other through the 2nd hole in the top stone and off-set it so the pole could go straight to the ground, bypassing the 2nd stone. Imperfect, but actually looked nice.

**Of course you can make the flags out of any material you want. I wrote on canvas directly with black sharpie, which gave a finished but still hand-drawn look.

Step 14: Body Truisms ~ for Your Reading Pleasure...

If you're curious about what our flags said, here's a link to some of them.

We're curious to hear the ones you may write yourself from your own experience, directly or otherwise!


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    3 years ago

    This is a really cool idea :) I'd love to have art structures like this downtown!