The Space Beside the Skate Park

The Space Beside the Skate Park

By Emily Nonko
Architecture for Humanity installed a pop up in New York City for two weeks, creating an unlikely plaza next to a skate park and underneath the Manhattan Bridge. Called The Urban Web, it's a sensory, geometric, and eye catching design that draws residents into a space they'd otherwise overlook—one overshadowed by the bustling streets of Chinatown, the roar of the Manhattan Bridge overhead, and the highly trafficked skate park.

The Urban Web is located near Monroe Street and Pike Street, under the Manhattan Bridge.

Architecture for Humanity worked on the neighboring skate park's design.

Volunteers install the pop-up exhibition. Architecture for Humanity hopes to find a permanent solution to the underutilized space.

The inspiration to distinguish such a lot came after a renovation of the skate park itself. This past summer, the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation and Architecture for Humanity added a new concrete slab, new obstacles, and skateable furniture inside the park. What still remained, however, were underutilized spaces directly outside the fence. So Architecture for Humanity decided to tackle this particular plot—empty save for a few trees and planting pots—and design it in a way that encourages community engagement, from both the skaters and the everyday residents just passing by.

On Sunday afternoon, seven designers and volunteers wound neon string tightly around each tree, creating a colorful maze in the previously drab location. "We want to draw the community in and start thinking about what would work here," says the on-site architect, Giulia Gallo.

Two volunteers stood out on the street with a white board, asking residents to write down their suggestions for public utilization. A few ideas included benches, public artwork, and a functioning disco ball at night. Architecture for Humanity started crafting the design and securing the permits for the popup installation this spring. The Urban Web will be installed until Sunday, November 4. After that, Architecture for Humanity hopes to engage with the city on more permanent solutions for the area. But until then, stop by the Coleman Oval Skate Park for a unique transformation that compliments the bustling recreation area and the city street it rests between.


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