A Great Big City

Innovative Accessories Turn Annoying Sidewalk Scaffolding into a Place to Relax

Softwalks seats
Softwalks seats via Softwalks
Softwalks seats Clip-on table Creators Bland Hoke and Howard Chambers demonstrate Softwalks chairs Lunch break at the Softwalks table Scaffolding accessories in use Rest your feet and check your phone at a Softwalks chair
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Why aren’t these attached to every sidewalk shed? Check out Softwalks, a project to make sidewalk scaffolding useful.

A major part of the jungle gym that is NYC’s sidewalks are sidewalk sheds, which are scaffolding that goes up during construction to keep material from falling to the street, but also creates dark, annoying tunnels that we have to shuffle through. Two students from The New School’s Parsons School of Design came up with an elegant solution: Use sidewalk sheds as a starting point and attach accessories to make the scaffolding useful!

Inspired by the Department of Transportation’s program that transforms under-utilized areas into public spaces, Howard Chambers and Bland Hoke designed these sidewalk shed accessories to make the city’s estimated 6,000 sidewalk sheds useful for pedestrians. The Softwalks Kit of Parts that the duo hopes to produce will contain a chair, counter space, planter, light cover, and a decorative trellis. These accessories clip on to the metal pipes of the construction scaffolding.

The Softwalks accessories in action via Softwalks on Vimeo

Worried about getting in people’s way and clogging up sidewalk traffic even more? Softwalks accessories take advantage of the area “outside” the scaffolding, between the scaffolding and the street, where it is usually too difficult to walk. Check out the timelapse video below, which shows how infrequently this area is used.

Underutilized space via Softwalks on Vimeo

Instead of rushing through a tunnel of sidewalk scaffolding and cursing at that lady who won’t move her shopping bags out of the way, wouldn’t you rather have a place to rest for awhile and enjoy a book or chat with friends? Learn more over at Softwalks and follow @softwalks on Twitter.

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