This summer 2021, interdisciplinary design studio Re-a.d Architecture and artist Allison Newsome debuted the installation of a micro-grid rainwater utility system linked to public urban canopies. The system is meant to be a replicable and customizable template for populating the city street with a new network of micro green spaces having functional and social capacities.
The collaboration between an architect and an artist, the project is now in the stage of a pilot for a subscription-based model of outdoor dining structure in the streets of NYC. With the onset of Covid-19, restaurants quickly had to pivot to offer alternative forms of dining. With the program becoming permanent, the shift towards longer lasting structure opened the way to imagine a multi-ownership and multi-use canopy + rainwater harvesting assembly. It found the perfect home as the first instance of a modular, movable, transferrable steel-based structure outdoor dining pavilion for a wine bar based in New York’s SoHo neighborhood. The outdoor structure features a functional floral sculpture as the focal point of the pavilion. Envisioned by artist Allison Newsome, the sculptural utility is designed to collect rainwater to supply to the bordering garden and prevent runoff from leading to flash flooding and other detrimental environmental impact.
The project initially emerged as part of the Design Corp program, organized by NYC EDC and NYCxDesign organizations. It was born out of our desire to provide pro bono guidance to restaurants building their pavilion and to solve a timely problem. The design then evolved from thinking about one pavilion to rethinking the system as a whole. The Rainwater Harvest Structure project is worthy of the World Changing Idea Award because it’s the first design of its kind in this space and market.
There are multiple interests into creating a micro-grid solution to larger issues linked to city infrastructure and climate change. Integration of the rainwater harvesting system contributes to minimizing flash flooding on the streets of New York, proposes a microgrid solution for alleviating contributed sewer owerflows (CSO) and creates a self-sustainable system for the care of the plants bordering the pavilion. The dining pavilion features an aesthetically beautiful yet functional water conservation system that collects rainwater. The rain hitting the roof is carried through the “rain chain” at the of the gutter and carried down to the recycled aluminium ank. The system has the potential to provide an entire new face to NYC streets and other cities adopting the system. Seasonal cities especially will benefit from the ability to move away some of the structures that cannot operate for dining during the cold winters.
The materials chosen for both the structure of the pavilion and the sculptural component were aimed to minimize material waste. The process has been inspired by Cradle to Cradle thinking and is meant to exist as a self-sufficient system. All selected cladding and structure materials are recyclable and durable. The design of the reusable steel structure aims to set a resilient base that can be transported and re-built with ease. It’s meant to be affordable and accessible by every restaurant in the city and endure changing conditions. With the seamless attachment of clip-on panels, the pavilion could be used during the winter months as efficiently as possible.The Rainwater Harvest Structure is unique because it rethinks numerous pavilions that have been built in a hurry for the right reasons but with a wrong timeline in mind. One aspect of the idea that attracted us the most is that there is already a significant amount of budget allocated by restaurants to build their additional outdoor dining spots. What we propose is a simple shift that will not cost more on a longer run but will bring so much more to the restaurants and the city itself.
By having a steel structure, the modules of 8’ x 8’ can be combined, for lifted to be reconfigured, moved away, brought back, or used in different manners. Our input turns a need into a multi-functional device that serves an environmental purpose, whereas most outdoor dining structures in New York City are only functional for dining.
The floral utility envisioned by artist Allison Newsome is a beacon for social interaction and a marker of new thinking. It is designed to collect rainwater in a recycled aluminum. The rainwater is used to supply the bordering garden and prevent runoff from leading to flash flooding and other detrimental impacts. Rainwater trickles down through the chains and leaves of the flower structure and collects in a cistern of a capacity that can be adjusted depending how many modules are clustered together. Through the material choice, it’s aimed to minimize material waste. All selected cladding and structure materials are recyclable and durable.