Construction sheds are both unsightly and a little sketchy not to mention magnets for posters, stickers and adverts. But just earlier this week, the new and vastly improved urban sidewalk shed was unveiled by the Department of Buildings and the UrbanSHED Competition. Designed by Young-Hwan Choi, who created the winning design and Andres Cortes and Sarrah Khan of Agencie Group, the Urban Umbrella is a breath of fresh air. The steel and polycarbonate canopy is modular by design to be able to accommodate any sidewalk, can be reused many times and vastly improves safety. The urban sidewalk canopy could also be easily used to provide shade for cafes or other walkways throughout the city.
After winning the competition, the design team took their 2D and 3D plans to Brooklyn-based Caliper Studio, which specializes in metal work. The studio engineered and optimized the design for cost, structural integrity and parts, resulting in a modular umbrella that can be custom installed to meet the site. Steel parts make up the basic structure of the shed, which is supported by leveling feet, unlike the older sheds that use wooden blocks as supports. Two different sized sheds will be made available – one for heavy-duty construction and one for lightweight applications, defined as buildings less than six stories.
The top of the final shed will be covered in translucent high-density polycarbonate sheets, which will let in light down to the sidewalk. These sheets are fireproof and rated for 300 pounds per square foot, which is like dropping a brick from 300 feet high. At night, LED SMD (surface mount device) lights will illuminate the sheds, providing visibility and decreasing the sketch factor one feels when walking through one at night. Overall, the shed not only improves protection from construction, but also improves safety for pedestrians – and we should also mention that they look a whole heck of a lot better.