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wood you be my neighbor?

Most of Thursday and a few hours on Friday I spent some time designing a piece of furniture for a design competition for Architecture for Humanity-Chicago.  Here is competition brief:

The fabric of any city has pockets of underutilized and neglected spaces. These vacant pieces of the city are often intended for development at some point in the future but currently sit empty and unused. Left unattended, they can become dangerous and unwelcoming areas along the streetscape. Through small acts of community we can repurpose these empty spaces and imagine for ourselves a better streetscape.
Design one or more pieces of ‘street furniture’ that can be easily distributed to vacant sites and parks throughout the city for two months during the summer. Street furniture should not be limited to benches, we consider anything that makes a small space seem inviting, usable and safe to be street furniture. Including but not limited to: seating, planters, bicycle parking, sports or play equipment. Winning designers will have at least one piece (potentially more) of their ‘street furniture’ built and distributed to a park space in the spring for a period of two months. The goal of these installations is to spark a dialogue about how we use our space and encourage community participation in the decisions that affect our civic life. As such, these installations are intended to be temporary and inexpensive. Designers should also consider what will happen to the materials at the end of the two month time period.

My proposal below:

Are you tired of looking at empty lots in your neighborhood that are waiting to be developed or wondering who your future neighbors will be? Empty lots litter the urban fabric of Chicago much like wood pallets do often found behind grocery stores.  Why not combine the two and utilize the space and material to create a respite for the neighborhood in the summer while fostering a sense of community. The goal of this structure to was create a versatile temporary space that includes a bicycle rack, covered seating area, and a community herb garden to help spark a sense of involvement.  It also provides plenty of space for conversation, reading, and relaxing.

The structure was designed to be built almost entirely from wooden shipping pallets using the 40”x40” & 48”x40” platforms.  Materials donated from various grocery stores would make this structure highly inexpensive. A hammer, nails, saws, and some helping hands  is  all  it takes to build the structure. The structure should be left unpainted for ease of recycling. At the end of it’s life-cycle it can be disassembled to re-create shipping pallets or the wood may be recycled into other goods.

Comments for this entry


well done - that is a clever and beautiful solution!

prada, marfa

prada, marfa

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