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Systematic and Flexible Spontaneity

After COVID-19, the distribution of spontaneous activity in New York changed, mainly because of the increased demand for outdoor activities, principally dining. Space for some spontaneous activities, such as food vendors and street performances, was replaced by new, static infrastructures like restaurant extensions, causing nomadic actors to be displaced. Our design strategy improves the coexistence of activities by systematizing the street infrastructures. We aim to keep spontaneity within the system by providing enough infrastructure to allow not only spontaneous but all street activities and city elements can harmonious and orderly coexistence. We chose K-town, 32nd Street, as our site, where the problem was most acute because of the density of restaurant extensions, vendors, and street performances. We analyzed the existing buildings in the vicinity and divided them into zones by type, such as offices, hotels, and restaurants. New restaurant extensions feature an electric transfer system that allows the restaurant to deploy its outdoor dining room when needed and to contract when not in use to free up sidewalk space for others. A second type is provided primarily for vendors, street performances, and other extemporaneous street activities. Coexistence also includes landscape and all other urban street elements, as mediators that anyone can use. They can change in scale to support different activities, and people can utilize the public space the infrastructures release when the elements are condensed.