Softwalks: Pop-up Urban Parks for All

Softwalks : des parcs « pop-up » pour tous

Colloque Quel chantier! - Softwalks : des parcs urbains « pop-up » pour tous

Howard Chambers, designer, adjunct professor at the Parsons School of Design and the co-founder of Softwalks New York, presents her firm’s urban design project, an initiative to activate New York City’s unesthetic and underused “sidewalk sheds” and convert them into usable and more pleasant public spaces.

These new “parklets” were improved in simple ways by the addition of foldable seating, narrow work surfaces, planters and even light diffusers. Chambers outlines some of the challenges, learnings, and opportunities that she and her partner, Bland Hoke, experienced during the development of their concept, which is still at the prototype stage. Softwalks is built on three main ideas: small changes equal big effects, innovation can be found within existing infrastructure, and placemaking is a top urban design strategy for people’s well-being.

This symposium was held at the Canadian Centre for Architecture in Montréal on October 8 and 9, 2014, as part of the 27th Entretiens Jacques Cartier. It was organized by Montréal’s Bureau du design and the Borough of Ville-Marie in collaboration with the Cité du design de Saint-Étienne, in France.