Community assets

Bland Hoke and Howard Chambers transform temporary sidewalk sheds into community assets throughout New York City.

Through researching sidewalk sheds and the effects they have on public space, Bland Hoke and Howard Chambers have designed outdoor furniture to give the temporary structures increased functionality and make them more user-friendly.

As scaffolding is a common sight in New York City due to mandatory building inspections taking place every five years, Bland Hoke and Howard Chambers’ “Softwalks” activation project aims to make full use of heavy-duty temporary structures while they line down the streets of the city.

The project provides a “Kit of Parts”, including chairs and planters, to create more functional public places. These allow users to sit, chat and appreciate the hustle and bustle of New York City life.

We discovered that when people see a function in a structure they generally appreciate it more, say Hoke and Chambers.

After observing people flocking to sidewalk sheds during a downpour, cyclists locking up bicycles and gymnasts swinging through the steel structures, the duo focused on addressing the basic needs for a city such as sitting and socialising.

“Softwalks” is an on-going project that empowers the general public, business owners and communities to choose what is most appropriate or useful for a shed in their neighbourhood, transforming an eyesore into a community asset.

Watch the Talk with Bland Hoke