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ParaSITEs — New York City

by Anne Miltenburg

The warm steam clouds spilling from buildings’ air vents onto the streets on cold winter days are one of the signature features of New York City. MIT graduate and conceptual artist Michael Rakowitz realised the vents’—literally—untapped potential for the homeless. Using five dollar’ worth of trash bags, ziplock bags and clear waterproof packing tape, he created custom-made ‘ParaSITE’ shelters that provide homeless people with a cheap, warm place to sleep. Each shelter is made to the specific demands of the future inhabitant. One science fiction fan requested a shape reminiscent of Jabba the Hutt; a couple requested two separate sitting areas connected by a ‘love tunnel’; another just wanted a cocoon to roll up in. Each ParaSITE features more or fewer windows, depending on the inhabitants’ feelings regarding privacy or their desire to have a view. The ziplock bags in the walls can be used to store or display personal belongings.

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