Design concept transforms shipping containers into outdoor stages for NYC

March 18, 2021

All images courtesy of Marvel

As the weather warms up, so will New York City’s arts and culture scene. The city’s Open Culture program that allows institutions to put on ticketed shows and events kicked off this month, preceded by the state’s NY PopsUp initiative, which promises to present over 300 unannounced concerts and performances statewide. Providing another way for New Yorkers to safely enjoy live performances again, architecture firm Marvel has developed a concept that converts portable shipping containers into stages for outdoor theatrical and musical productions.

The conceptual design involves adapting shipping containers as stages by placing them on bridges between scaffolding towers, about 12 feet above street level. According to the architects, there would be enough space for vehicles to pass underneath and traffic to resume when not in use. The portable theaters can seat 100 socially-distanced people at the ground level in front of the stage.

The shipping containers come in two models, one for stages and one for operations. Containers that are smaller could be used for concessions and shops, according to Marvel, which has experience working on a number of cultural projects, including TheatreSquared and the Northeast Bronx YMCA, as well as adaptive reuse, like the Bedford Union Armory in Crown Heights.

“There is a culture of sidewalk bridging in our streets and sidewalks,” Jonathan Marvel, founding principal of Marvel, told Dezeen. “Scaffolding of this kind can provide an elevated staging for both performances as well as towers to support the 40-foot spanning containers, letting pedestrians and automobiles flow beneath.”

Marvel first came up with the project in May 2020, just weeks after Broadway and other performance venues were closed in response to the pandemic. Gov. Andrew Cuomo this month said arts groups can resume live performances starting April 2, with COVID protocols in place.

Under state rules, indoor arts and entertainment venues can reopen starting April 2 at 33 percent capacity or up to 100 people indoors and 200 people outdoors. If all attendees present proof of a negative coronavirus test prior to entry, capacity can increase to 150 people indoors and 500 people outdoors.

Some performances that are part of the NY PopsUp program, which launched in January, could take place at select Broadway theaters, which have been closed since March 12. Marvel told Dezeen it could test out their shipping container stages near Broadway quickly.

“A pilot project could be assembled temporarily in an empty parking lot adjacent to the cross street in the theatre district, and tested for operability and safety concerns,” Marvel told the website.


All images courtesy of Marvel

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