Posting in Cities
With a DIY kit of parts, scaffolding eyesores become community spaces.
It’s hard to walk a single block in New York City without encountering a building encased by scaffolding. Rainy days aside, the metal beams and wooden boards that hover over sidewalks do little to enhance the pedestrian experience.
One pair of designers, however, is set to upgrade sidewalk sheds from their eyesore status. After meeting as MFA students at Parsons, Bland Hoke and Howard Chambers created Softwalks, a DIY kit that allows people to turn scaffolding into their very own pop-up hangout space.
The Softwalks kit includes a chair, a counter, a trellis, a light, a screen and even a hanging flower basket. The pieces easily attach to the scaffolding’s metal beams and can be removed just as simply.
Speaking to Co.Design earlier this month, Hoke says that the duo was inspired by the New York City Department of Transportation’s makeover of traffic heavy areas like Times Square into pedestrian-friendly community spaces filled with colorful park benches and potted plants.
“We were inspired by the concept of ‘the city as lab’ as well as the work of Jane Jacobs and Jan Gehl, who recognized the positive aspects of social interaction within urban spaces,” Hoke said, also explaining that extensive testing was performed to make sure the Softwalks hangouts didn’t create unwanted congestion on sidewalks.
The designers are currently working with New York’s Business Improvement Districts Association on a pilot project with the DIY kit of parts.
Aug 31, 2012
I'm not from a big city, but isn't scaffolding used during construction? Why would you encourage people to stay under scaffolding in a construction area? It sounds dangerous.
over-sidewalk scaffolding is erected to protect people on the sidewalk during repairs and construction that may be occurring in the building, or on the face of the building. It's ubiquitous in NYC and usually comes in the form of a 1-story scaffold covered by substantial lumber and surrounded above head-level by plywood barriers. Only the bottom 6 feet is open scaffolding. The second picture only hints at what the situation looks like, though NYers would recognize it in a minute.