This canopy sprouted new experiences to life; potential has risen for farmer's markets, flea markets, impromptu movie sets, tag obstacles, and a shaded area to rest. The process actively engaged the community to build with us and provide their input. 


Peering down Germantown Avenue from Lehigh Ave in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, one may notice a street not quite like the rest. The facades of nearly all the buildings, including food markets, hair shops, eateries and fashion outlets, have been gifted with a palette of bold colors. The rebirth of the street's image is credited to Haas and Hahn, Dutch artists famously known for their painting in Rio De Janeiro's slums. The project was funded by the Philadelphia Mural Arts Program and given the title Philly Painting.

An aerial view from Lehigh down to N. Alder street and the vibrant green canopy.

An aerial view from Lehigh down to N. Alder street and the vibrant green canopy.

The video below features shots of the canopy, and provides more visuals and understanding of the location.

Reaching N. Alder St., one can find another treasure, the Village of Arts and Humanities. This organization is host to all types of creative after school programs for the children of the community. They have truly transformed the once forgotten surrounding neighborhood through contributions such as sculptures, mosaics facilitated by famous artist Lily Yeh, and performances on their outdoor stage. The Philly Painting mural project provided the opportunity for community members, who may have yet to give back, to engage in the actual painting. Coinciding with the painting project, an outdoor canopy produced a future marketplace and space to convene.

A rendering of the marketplace. 

A rendering of the marketplace. 

I had the privilege of being a part of the marketplace canopy that now sits alongside the main building of the Village. The canopy was constructed with Public Workshop, a community engaging organization that creates projects based around the design and building process. The venture came about when we were approached by Philly Earth, a youth driven urban farming group. The group inquired with us about designing and building a farm stand, since we had previously been hosting a summer class to teach basic wood tools through building benches. We accepted the request with enthusiasm and began 3D sketching ideas with kids in the community.

The prototyping generated ideas for what was needed, what other possibilities exist, and what happens down the road. We came to the conclusion that we could provide more than just shade for the farm stand; we could create an entire outdoor market area. The Village has many outputs to share, rendering the market as an ideal extension for exhibitions. It would become a place for the Village and community to gather and sell their artwork, crafts, and even host a small flea market. The canopy transformed the once bare, lifeless side lot into a space for gathering and memories.

Looking south toward the marketplace from Huntingdon St.