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NYC’s Soft Side: Transforming City Sidewalks


New York is a pavement pounder's paradise. With so much to see and do, the only thing left wanting is a place to take a break when there's not a stoop in sight. Enter Softwalks: the Brooklyn duo re-envisioning the functionality of the humble footpath.

Softwalks
© Softwalks

Construction scaffolding is an eyesore at best, but the amount of perennial building sites in the Big Apple take the "work in progress" look to the next level. Over 189 miles of sidewalk sheds straddle New York City walkways in total, and lined end-to-end, this skeletal tunnel would stretch all the way from Manhattan to Baltimore!

In a green design crusade, Howard Cambers and Bland Hoke of Softwalks took to realizing the full potential of these shared spaces.

Let this short intro to the project sweep you off your feet:

Softwalks' DIY kit of modular furniture pieces latch onto existing scaffolding beams to create impromptu sidewalk hangouts. Their foldout chair and coffee counter clamp onto the exposed outer structure of the sidewalk shed, allowing pedestrian traffic to continue its flow while the weary pull up a pew next to the newly gentrified gutter. To further soften the edges of this classically uninviting city space, hanging planters add a floral flourish to the makeshift framework, while specially designed lampshades reflect the nocturnal glow of fluorescents.

Softwalks
© Softwalks
Softwalks
© Softwalks
Softwalks

Like the sidewalk sheds themselves, these fittings are designed to be modular, ready to be transported from one construction site to the next. More fixtures in the pipeline include a decorative trellis, benches, and communal game boards to incite community interaction. And while the project was designed with New York City in mind, these pop-up parks are fit to adorn street corners at any corner of the globe.

Softwalks
© Softwalks
Softwalks
© Softwalks
Click on a picture to launch the image gallery (10 images)

Softwalks have recently succeeded in their first crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter, which means components for their "pop-up parks" are now inching closer to a sidewalk near you!

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Which urban innovation project do you have a soft spot for? Let us know in the comments!

by Melissa King

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Comments (1)

Nicolás Guzmán

posted by Nicolás Guzmán | 09/25/2013 10:51 am

What a great idea, looks amazing

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