We have discovered that sidewalk sheds can be placed into two categories: Active and Passive. Active sidewalk sheds are installed at construction sites. We are not interested in these sidewalk sheds because they are loud dangerous places with plenty of workers and activity. These sidewalk sheds are normally up for a very specific and planned time, unless a project stalls. The passive sidewalk sheds are the type we will seek out to install the pilot project. These sidewalks sheds are erected due to NYC’s Local Law 11, which requires buildings to have their facade inspected every 5 years. In some cases, major work is required, which is quite a burden for some building owners who do not have the means to pay for what could be expensive work. In some cases, leaving the sidewalks shed up for an extended amount of time (the longest one has been up was for 12 years!) —is more affordable that fixing the building’s facade.
First, Kickstarter is not for starting businesses. Although many product design projects turn into this, Softwalks is not starting a small manufacturing business. We have explored the option thoroughly prior to launching the campaign, however it does not align with either of our career paths. The purpose of the pilot project is to finalize a couple parts for public use. Then, if the pilot project is successful we will market the finished Kit of Parts to one Business Improvement District to use for special events, street festivals and short periods of time where extra seating and counter space is quite helpful. At that point, the buyer would own the Kit of Parts and can deploy it at their discretion. If we can't sell the Kit of Parts, we may explore an option to lease or rent the Kit, and lastly we may keep the Kit of Parts and use it in collaboration with other designers or event producers for finite projects.
For the pilot project, we will identify the most ideal site to install the Kit of Parts. This is a very wide sidewalks with a narrow sidewalk shed. The Kit of Parts is designed to attach to the space between the outside of the sidewalk shed and the street curb. This space is underutilized and many times vacant of pedestrian activity as the sidewalk shed funnels people through the tunnel. From our observations thus far, we have had no complaints from blind or handicapped people. Yet this is one of many reasons we hope to install the pilot project - to learn more about streetscape behaviors and the needs or requirements of public amenities.
We do not intend to patent Softwalks. We have consulted with many innovators and designers and have learned that a patent is only as good as you are willing to chase down infringement (after the significant expense of filing for one!). We are a small design studio, focusing on developing new ideas and showcasing our capacities for innovation. However, if business is your specialty and you want to speak with us about patents and marketing the product we welcome your inquiry.
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