ShowBox - Create Your Own Street Stage and Seating




ShowBox is temporary street furniture, stage, play space, and inspirational zone constructed from simple, readily accessible, low-tech materials. Created as an installation for the Market Street Prototyping Festival, a three day street festival in San Francisco, this project was inspired by the historic theatre and arts district, as well as the strong presence of street performance in the area. The stepping form resembles the cities skyline, changing ones viewpoint and perception of the street as you interact with the object. Throughout the festival, performers from all walks of life were featured on and around Showbox, activating the project and streetscape while creating a zone of cultural and social interaction.

Future organization can take any form to fit your desired space and use. As a prototype, this Instructable is not ment for a permanent structure.

Step 1: Materials

This project could be taken from extremely simple and low tech to much a more intensive and permanent installation. As shown in this Instructable, the framework of ShowBox is completely made from the following materials and can be done using only basic hand tools.

1. 16" Sonotube concrete forming tubes (or similar)

2. 1 1/2" Plywood

3. 12" Zipties

Additional materials may include

- Paint

- Screws (to permanently attach lids)

- Lighting

- Audio

Step 2: Design

ShowBox went through numerous design iterations before our final amorphous, site specific form took shape. The tiered layout stemmed from the design of auditorium seating, along with a desire to create a stepping street playspace. We hoped to create something that blended with its environment, creating a dialogue between what is sidewalk and what is play/ stage/ seating.

Step 3: Fabrication

Lids: (5) 1 1/2" x 4' x 8' plywood boards

1 1/2" Plywood was cut on a CNC machine to create 16 1/2" diameter circles for the lids.

A 3/4" deep lip was routed out to create a 15 7/8" circle, allowing the lid to snugly fit into the tube.

* 63 lids were routed in 3 hours.

Tubes: (11) 12' x 16" Sonotubes

12' tubes were cut at 6" intervals at heights of 1' - 5' to create the final 63 pieces.

Measuring: In order to increase speed and accuracy, butcher paper templates were made at the various heights with corresponding instructions (see attached). Tubes were then numbered for ease of final assembly.

Cutting: Each 12' tube was cut down to size using hand held circular saws.

Drilling: Templates and instruction packets were again made with heights and drill locations. Holes were drilled with a 5/8" drill bit for final zip tie assembly.

Step 4: Installation

For the final assembly, all the tubes were placed on site to guarantee proper alignment with the tree grates. To speed up the assembly process, the plan was broken into six groups and tubes were laid on their sides for initial attachments. Zip ties were threaded through pre drilled holes on both the top and bottom to ensure stability. After the initial groups were assembled we had to lift the sections to do the final attachments on the bottom. Good thing we had a great team in place, you wouldn't think it, but all that cardboard can get heavy! Finally, lids were placed and then screwed on.

Step 5: ShowBox in Action

Throughout the 3 day festival, events took place using the project as both seating and stage. Programming varied from open mic and piano to spoken word to professional dance pieces.

For the temporary install, audio equipment was brought in separately.

As a permanent installation, audio equipment would be integrated into the piece and tapped into the city grid to allow for easily accessible pop-up performance.

Step 6: Other Uses

Although originally created as street furniture, ShowBox was up-cycled as planters, tables, and a jungle gym. The lids were donated to a local artist. Use your imagination!



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    10 Discussions


    4 years ago

    looks sketchy with the skater walking on top of them in the first pic. are they really that stable?

    1 reply

    The whole structure is zip tied together, giving added stability. The tubes themselves are inherently strong as they are typically used to form concrete.


    4 years ago

    Are all the tubes interconnected to each other? Your drilling instructions seem to suggest this. If the tops are zip tied on and the tubes are interconnected this thing should be quite heavy and stable.
    The tubes and plywood are stronger than they might look. This is a great way to build a sturdy structure cheaply. Nice work.

    1 reply

    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    All the tubes have been zip tied together and the lids were screwed on. Although each individual piece was quite light and easily managed, as you said in its entirety it became quite heavy and stable. At one point of the festival we had the entire structure covered in people!


    4 years ago

    Are the hollow tubes able to support high weights? In one of the pictures I saw a white thing inside a few of the tubes, did you leave them hollow or?

    1 reply

    The tubes are completely hollow. We used a thicker plywood for the lids and added the lip to the edge to ensure the lid itself wouldn't fail and the tubes wouldn't distort. As the force is pushing directly down on the tubes they are quite strong. The strength of the project also stems from repetition of the tubes.

    Bill Rose

    4 years ago on Introduction

    I like this idea of the 'Show Box' very interesting idea...


    4 years ago on Introduction

    This is awesome! Looks like a fun place to hang out. Thanks for sharing how you built it!