Winners of Streetfest Tent Design Competition Announced

Storefront for Art and Architecture, the New Museum, and New York City’s Department of Transportation (NYCDOT), are pleased to announce that a team of emerging New York City-based designers from the studios Family and PlayLab have been selected as the winners of Storefront’s StreetFest international competition to re-envision temporary outdoor structures.

The StreetFest competition asked for designs that envisioned street tents not only as shelters but also as active elements within the collective construction and understanding of the city. StreetFest made a call to Architects, Artists and Engineers to re-envision, with the same budget of renting common tenting structures, the performativity-the material, social, and educational possibilities-of temporary outdoor structures and to bring innovative design to an object of everyday life within the urban life of cities. Unanimously chosen by the jury out of 30 submissions, the winning entry, called “The Worms”, allows for a variety of urban configurations able to construct spaces of gathering and collectivity in a context of surprising, colorful playfulness.

The Worms’ are modular accordion forms, skinned in bright, lightweight, waterproof rip-stop nylon that is patterned and reinforced to provide flexibility in use and singularity in shape. Each modular unit is 10 feet in height and 20 feet in length. These units can be combined in an infinite number of different configurations, generating important gathering spots and orientation points within the crowded context of a public event. Moreover, the effect of their bright, vaulted forms is surprising and joyful from both street level and above.

“The Worms” take the most functional aspects of the typical street fair tent and advance them, making the result more adaptable, sculptural, and interactive, accommodating a wider and more engaging variety of programs. Built from common and inexpensive materials, these new tent typologies are designed to be as efficient in cost and assembly as the ubiquitous white farmer’s market tent, while catalyzing activities and events not typically found in street festivals.


The rolled galvanized steel ribs of ‘The Worms,’ supported by steel forks resting on swivel
casters, create bays that can expand, turn, and contract to host a variety of programs and can easily be reconfigured. To minimize on-site setup time, each ‘Worm’ can be flat packed and delivered to the site fully assembled before being rolled and locked into position. Simultaneously distinct, familiar, and endlessly adaptable, ‘The Worms’ are a living entity that will physically engage the neighborhood, buildings, and streets to form new spaces for gathering, eating, discovering, and playing.


The winning design will be on full view to New Yorkers and visitors to the city alike, when
StreetFest takes place along the Bowery, between Houston and Spring Streets, in Downtown Manhattan on May 7, 2011 during the upcoming Festival of Ideas for the New City where eight raspberry and cyan blue colored ‘Worms’ will be realized for the May event.

Following the Festival of Ideas, “The Worms” will be used at the Department of Transportation’s summer events and at other temporary street events.


The Designers: Family & PlayLab Team includes: Archie Lee Coates IV, Jeffrey Franklin,
Keshet Rosenblum, Scott Snelling, P.E.,and Dong-Ping Wong.


Production: Kellam Clark


The Jury included: Vito Acconci, Principal, Vito Acconci Studio; Jeff Thompson, Associate
Principal, Buro Happold Consulting Engineers; Eva Franch i Gilabert, Director, Storefront for Art and Architecture; Tamara Greenfield, Executive Director, Fourth Arts Block; Lisa Phillips,Toby Devan Lewis Director, New Museum; Charles Renfro, Partner, Diller Scofidio + Renfro; and Wendy Feuer, Assistant Commissioner Of Urban Design & Art, NYC Department Of Transportation.


Family was established to determine more optimistic and productive typologies of ecological building. They are dedicated to redefining architecture’s role in the consumption and production of energy, the optimization of valuable land, and the innovative application of natural resources in order to look beyond an ability to sustain and towards a practice of prosperity. Projects include a floating pool in New York City, a contemporary art museum in Maribor, Slovenia, a high-density housing block in Dallas, Texas, and a master-planning proposal for the Nordhavnen peninsula of Copenhagen. Family is led by Dong-Ping Wong.


The Office of PlayLab, Inc. is the collaborative art and design studio of Archie Lee Coates IV
and Jeffrey Franklin, and is located in Brooklyn, New York. PlayLab is interested in everything. They create the things that excite them, and hopefully those around them. Their approach is multi-disciplinary, ranging from architecture to the visual world. They’re currently working on +Pool, a floating and self-filtering pool in New York City; PlayLab Arabia, an accredited exploration program at a science and technology university in The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia;The Gauntlet, an interactive art exhibition in Stockholm, Sweden; and Artypes, an informational, inspirational, educational, and economical art resource.


The Festival of Ideas for the New City, May 4-8, 2011, is a major new collaborative initiative in New York involving scores of Downtown organizations working together to harness the power of the creative community to imagine the future city and explore ideas that will shape it. The Festival will include a three-day slate of symposia; an innovative StreetFest along the Bowery; and over one hundred independent projects and public events. For more information, visit