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Scaffolding Swaps

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Building strong communities through free neighborhood swaps.

  • Community

  • Urban Studies

  • Research

  • Book Design

  • UX/UI

  • Julie Vantrease

  • Lizzie Scheader

  • Adobe InDesign

  • Adobe XD

  • Procreate

Designing for Policy, led by Andrew Shea at Parsons School of Design

The Problem
There are more than 300 miles of scaffolding in NYC
Research Question
What opportunities are there for scaffolding to act as
a community space?

Pain Points

  • Visual environment

  • Individuality

  • Investment in temporary spaces


  • Street vendors

  • Community swaps

  • Neighborhood identity

  • Creative outlet

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Our Proposal

We are proposing a service called, Scaffolding Swaps - a way for neighborhoods to build a stronger sense of community through free swapping locations focusing on the sharing of books. Along with this service proposal, we have a design prototype of our swapping shelving unit, logo, app icon/ prototype and user map. While the app is not required for use, it does offer community members further information about scaffolding in NYC (policy; length of time their neighborhood scaffolding has been up) and notifications of books available in each shelving unit.

We would simply be supplying the shelving units or ‘mini libraries’ and users help stock libraries through a give one, take one system.

Interviewing Community Members

We asked our target audience, youth 20-25 year olds, residing in Manhattan and Brooklyn the following question: 

"Is it possible for scaffolding to act as a community space?"

Pain Points

There seems to be a common concern when it comes to the visual aspect

that goes into scaffolding. The way it distorts the building facades, or how

intimidating it can be at night with such dark walls. Visually, scaffolding needs

to improve. Whether that be with different paint options, alternative structural

design, or opportunity for art display. It visually needs to welcome people, not

scare, disgust, or annoy them. There was also a voice for individuality on

each scaffolding. It was mentioned how the creative direction the scaffolding

represents should be dependent on the neighborhood or community near

the scaffolding itself. This should not be a city made decision, rather than the

community members who interact with it the most. This shows the culture

behind each neighborhood and the differences there are between them.
The concept of it being a temporary space was a concern when making
major changes.


The concept of it being a temporary space was a concern when making major changes. Is it necessarily worth the financial investment, if it will only be up for a few weeks, months, etc.? The idea of vendors selling goods in these

spaces was mentioned, as Sarah-Nicole stated, artists and vendors sell

things displayed on the ground. Creating an unconventional but functional

infrastructure so that these vendors can have a semi-permanent presentation

for their stuff may attract people.


Based on the interview responses that we collected, it seems like most

people are intruiged by the idea of scaffolding acting as a community space.

While we must be mindful that pedestrians are very weary of sidewalk

obstructions, there is a unique opportunity to transform scaffolding in to

something that encourages creativity within “tented” communities.

App Prototype

Through an app prototype, we sought to make the service of implementing a scaffolding book swap easy to use and accessible to New Yorkers with smartphones.

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