Take a walk on the soft side
A US company called Softwalks “activates” sidewalk sheds by providing a kit of parts to create more functional public places.
A sidewalk shed is the part of a scaffolding structure that bridges the sidewalk to protect pedestrians from the possibility of falling debris.
In New York City alone, there are more than 6,000 sidewalk sheds at any given time. The Softwalks kit, therefore, is designed to adapt to a variety of neighbourhood needs.
“The base kit consists of hanging chairs, counters, planters, screens and trellises. We will be adding other components such as new lighting techniques in the months to come,” it says.
According to Softwalks, the kit is designed “with placemaking in mind, activating our desires to sit, chat and appreciate environments of interest”.
“In doing so, Softwalks empowers individuals, business owners and communities to choose what is most appropriate or useful for a shed in their neighbourhood,” it says.
Surely there’s a need for something similar in Australia. While Australian cities aren’t as large as New York City, initiatives that aim to promote “togetherness” are gaining in popularity.