With authorities around the world looking at how they can reopen bars and restaurants post-pandemic, the focus is now on practical solutions that can provide an enjoyable experience while making diners feel safe.

In light of that, architect David Rockwell and his team at Rockwell Group have devised an adaptable kit of parts that could transform New York’s streets into outdoor restaurants that allow for socially distanced dining.

The proposal comprises a base module, service and sanitation station, decking panels to cover pavements and street fencing. These would be installed with accessories like lighting, umbrellas, fans and planter benches.

The hope is that the interventions would not only be cost-effective for the city and restaurant owners, but also provide potential revenue to offset financial costs suffered during the crisis as a result of lockdown restrictions.

“There is no single solution to the current challenge faced by restaurants, though, how we utilise public space is essential to the industry’s immediate relief in New York City and globally,” says David Rockwell, founder and President, Rockwell Group. “Our kit-of-parts formula extends a restaurant’s interior dining space, with minimal or more complex interventions, to sidewalks and beyond. This intersection of streets and sidewalks – even the centre lanes of avenues, in some cases – offers a range of outdoor dining experiences, accommodating the many restaurants that are so vital to communities.”

Rockwell is currently in discussion with restaurant operators and those active in the Big Apple’s wider F&B community to develop the concept further. Below are mock-up examples of how the scheme could be put into practice, including at a small 30-seat outdoor restaurant or the 104-cover Melba’s in the heart of Harlem.

Rockwell Group's Open Streets proposal