Architecture, Sidewalk, Sheds, Urban Identity, New York City, Structure
In New York City, a sidewalk shed is a structure that covers a sidewalk immediately adjacent to a site under construction in order to protect pedestrians from falling debris. There are currently about 9,000 sheds in the entire city, with a lifespan of about 300 days. In total, all of the sidewalk sheds take up about 1,000,000 feet of space.1 Their existence is unwanted but inevitable, and, over the last four decades, these sheds have become an integral part of the City’s identity. This thesis proposes an intervention that allows the shed to better engage with the general public, particularly the City’s homeless population. By making the sidewalk shed a permanent architectural feature rather than a temporary safeguard, the existence of the shed becomes an opportunity to increase the amount of occupiable space in a densely populated area. In this thesis, the New York City Building Code serves as a set of formal and functional constraints, and the design solution is an intervention that results from loopholes and exceptions within, and even alterations of, the code.
According to a census taken in September 2019, approximately 62,000 homeless people in New York City have been sleeping in shelters each night.2 This intervention on the sidewalk sheds would thus address a relevant issue by turning the sidewalk sheds into housing for the homeless, who would normally sleep on the ground underneath the sidewalk shed. Another intervention would involve editing the code so that sidewalk sheds are required to serve as a display for public art. In both cases, the sidewalk shed becomes a multifunctional object that enhances the environment and contributes to a new identity for the City.
Aneja, Sukhmann, "Waiting: Sidewalk Sheds and Urban Identity" (2019). Architecture Thesis Prep. 382.
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