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Pop-Up Parks Turn City Scaffolding Into Urban Retreats

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- 1940 days ago -
Softwalks' goal is to market DIY kits that transform urban spaces.

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JL A (281)
Sunday January 27, 2013, 6:11 pm

Pop-Up Parks Turn City Scaffolding Into Urban Retreats
Softwalks' goal is to market DIY kits that transform urban spaces.
By Andri Antoniades
January 12, 2013
Pop-Up Parks Turn City Scaffolding Into Urban Retreats

Anyone burdened by the onslaught of stress as a result of city living understands the value of stillness, and appreciates it even in its most minute doses. That’s probably why Softwalks, a startup that promises to turn construction scaffolding into a temporary mini-park, is gaining such Internet buzz.

Softwalks started out as a school project at New York City’s renowned Parsons The New School for Design. According to Softwalks’ website, design students Bland Hoke and Howard Chambers were inspired to create a method for city-dwellers to have access to more livable public spaces.

Fast Company reports the duo started out by erecting day-long garden installations along the interiors of New York’s construction scaffolding. These were made of removable pieces, like chairs, which hung on rails and plants and could be hooked to scaffolding bars in order to create a garden-like seating area for whomever walked by.

The pair even earned Fast Company’s Innovation by Design award for their efforts, but recently made a bigger push to bring their DIY mini-park kits to market.

Softwalks just completed its first successful Kickstarter campaign to test and refine its kits. The parts so far include hanging chairs, plants, stand-up counters, light reflectors and screens.

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Repurposing an urban blight like construction scaffolding isn’t an entirely new idea. Recently, New York City did away with all of its single-car parking meters, leaving behind thousands of iron poles sticking out of city sidewalks. Instead of cutting them down, New York’s Department of Transportation is spending $2 million to turn them all into bike racks.

Anyone who lives and bikes in New York City knows that racks are few and far between and this project would double the number of them currently available. Philadelphia did the same, but took an artistic approach to it, installing decorative rings as part of the locking mechanism.

And in other cities, designers are getting more creative about turning urban features into opportunities to slow down and congregate. Known as the pavement-to-parks movement, it’s spawned creations like the Vancouver Art Gallery’s temporary picnic grove, which it erected in its city’s downtown area.

Projects like these are usually met with enthusiasm by residents because the busier our lives become, the less connected to them we tend to feel. By carving out these moments of relaxation and engagement, it’s easier to remember who we are and why we’re here.

Kit B (276)
Sunday January 27, 2013, 7:07 pm

What clever group of ideas. Many buildings are being re-faced with plants and gardens in cities around the world.

JL A (281)
Sunday January 27, 2013, 7:16 pm
You cannot currently send a star to Kit because you have done so within the last week.

John B (185)
Sunday January 27, 2013, 7:41 pm
Thanks J.l. for the post and the link to the article with all the other informative links. All the ideas mentioned would really make a world of difference for urban sites and radically change the look of downtown areas. Read and noted.

JL A (281)
Sunday January 27, 2013, 8:38 pm
You are welcome John. It definitely beats graffiti and other things I've seen. You cannot currently send a star to John because you have done so within the last week.

Giana Peranio-paz (398)
Monday January 28, 2013, 2:01 am
Great ideas!

Lynn D (0)
Monday January 28, 2013, 2:39 am

Danuta W (1249)
Monday January 28, 2013, 2:40 am

Kath P (9)
Monday January 28, 2013, 4:49 am
Absolutely LOVE this idea....I hope it's adopted throughout the world.

JL A (281)
Monday January 28, 2013, 6:23 am
You are welcome Lynn!

Gloria p (304)
Monday January 28, 2013, 6:30 am
It's all good as long as there is regulation. We don't want to go back to the oh-well-your-arms-and-legs-got-chopped-off style as the Industrial Revoluion was with no unions and no OSHA.

. (0)
Monday January 28, 2013, 6:36 am
An interesting idea. Toronto, in spite of all its constant condo construction does have a lot of parks, trees and other greenery. It's always interesting walking to work to see the different trees and how they change in syncopation.

Sleep my children, sleep. Your passion in all its glory now spent, sleeps. The snow has fallen; winter come. The cycle of life and death continues anew; regeneration and rebirth in cyclic syncopation.
Sleep my children sleep. Why should man be any different?
Michael Kirkby

JL A (281)
Monday January 28, 2013, 8:12 am
You cannot currently send a star to Gloria because you have done so within the last week.
Your mention of Toronto, Michael, reminded me that when I was there recently, I didn't see graffiti on construction barriers and that most had tasteful and artistic posters for local events. Thanks for the poetry.You cannot currently send a star to Michael because you have done so within the last week.
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