In my recent trip to New York, I was a bit puzzled by two facts – that there was so little public seating available, and that there seemed to be a scaffolding on every third building I passed. Little did I know then that an initiative called Softwalks is trying to reclaim the public space that has been taken over by scaffolding by providing attachable furniture to create seats and a nicer environment.
Softwalks is proposing to make use of the so-called passive sidewalk sheds - scaffolding that is in place to protect pedestrians from falling debris but is not used in the active construction. According to Softwalks, there are quite a few of these in New York, due to a local law that requires buildings' facades to be checked every five years.
Designers Howard Chambers and Bland Hoke have created a Kit of Parts - a furniture set consisting of a chair, counter, light reflector and a planter, all designed and created to be attached to scaffolding, which, in case you were wondering, can take a pressure of up to 1,465kg per sq m.
After a series of pop-up projects, the designers are now fundraising on the Kickstarter crowdfunding platform for a pilot project to thoroughly test, refine and improve the furniture with a long-term aim of businesses and buildings sourcing the Kit of Parts to transform these public spaces to be more inclusive and enjoyable.