See It: Steaming NYC Manholes Briefly Transformed Into Cabins

Artist Mark Reigelman has been pushing a small cabin around the streets of New York, giving a makeover to the city’s ubiquitous steaming manholes.

If you’ve spent time in New York, you’ve probably seen the many mysterious orange tubes that stick out of the street, pouring steam, or smoke, who knows (actually it’s steam) into the air.

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Photo: Mark Vanhoenacker. Source: Slate.

For his project “Smökers,” Reigelman has been diverting this steam into a small wood cabin – about the size of a spacious doghouse – so that it comes out the chimney, creating (very) temporary installations around the city.


Courtesy of Mark Reigelman.

“Smökers” is a guerrilla project (i.e. no official sanction or permissions), so installations last from 30 seconds to three hours, according to the artist. The project is supported by a Windgate Fellowship Award.

Here it is in action:

From the project concept:

“Inspired by Reigelman’s childhood fascination and familiarity with small hand-made German objects (Räuchermann), the project seeks to imbricate the purpose of steaDevelop3m tubes, and insert the notion of whimsy and imagined narrative to the everyday. Räuchermann, also commonly referred to as ‘smokers’, are simple wooden incense burners, often resembling cottages, animals, and chimney sweeps. The aesthetics of these common German objects references the orange and white candy-cane striping of these plastic steam tubes but more importantly, both objects have identical functionality and usage – to channel and release smoke – compounding the nuance of the work.”

So far, “Smökers” has been installed in three Manhattan spots: Broadway and Grand Street, 1st Avenue and 12th Street, and Park Avenue and 27th Street. You can check out more of Reigelman’s work on his website.

h/t designboom