A mysterious micro-cabin has been spotted in the middle of NYC's busy intersections recently—but unlike the city's new tiny apartments, this mini home is not for living. The monochromatic wooden cabin is actually part of a mobile art installation called Smökers, which calls attention to the byproduct steam vapor from the city’s district heating system. Designed by artist Mark Riegelman, the tiny cabin was made to sit on top of the steam vents, creating the illusion of smoke coming out of its chimney.
The idea for Smökers was sparked when Riegelman took notice of the Big Apple’s ubiquitous white-and-orange plastic steam stacks. The cones reminded the artist of his childhood fascination with Räuchermann, traditional German incense-smoking structures typically made from timber and built to resemble cabins, animals, and chimney sweeps. Riegelman’s version, however, is much larger in size and weighs hundreds of pounds.
Measuring six-by-eight by eight feet, Smökers was temporarily placed over steam vents in the middle of the streets for a short photo opportunity before being quickly removed to minimize traffic disruption. “This cabin replaces the brightly colored plastic steam tubes that dot the New York landscape, allowing the byproduct of the city’s essential industrial process, which provides power and heat to thousands of homes and businesses throughout the city, to be highlighted and subverted,” says a statement on the artist’s website. A Windgate Fellowship Award administered by The Center for Craft, Creativity & Design supported the project.
Images via Mark Riegelman