Covid-safe outdoor theatres made of containers: A solution for NYC’s Broadway?

How fitting that an architecture firm named Marvel has come up with and idea to use containers as open-air theatres. There is a magical touch to this creation, similar to the one from the comic books universe, of the same name. And although using containers to build houses and shelters is not a new concept, this could very well be a good solution for the theatre industry in NYC, at a time when they really need it.

Adapting to Today’s Reality

A year ago, an idea like the one Marvel is now proposing, could never have worked. In fact, it would have been thought of as “simply crazy.” Closing some streets of NYC at night, for outdoor theatre presentations? Be serious! But today, it may just be the greatest idea an architecture firm has had, to reopen the industry in the Big Apple. With scientists proving that it is a lot less dangerous to be grouped in the open then staying inside, placing the stage in urban nature, just might work.

Containers solutions are not new. They have proved their worth in many different settings, around the world, for many years now. Whether people use them to build hotels or temporary shelters, their capacity to come into the environment and be removed at will later on, make them one of the greatest construction tools in the housing industry. It is, therefore, not a giant leap to imagine positioning them as a bridge between two scaffolding towers, raised at a level of 12 feet, over the street. It is sufficiently high for vehicles to move below, during the day, and then you close this portion of the street in the evening, and install the temporary seating.

Why it makes Sense

If you don’t live in New York City, you may not be aware that Broadway, which hosts the world-famous theatre district has not reopened its doors, since it was closed by the coronavirus pandemic, in March 2020. The problem is, there are no short-term solutions that currently exist. In fact, the current potential re-opening date is June 2021, and that is yet to be confirmed. A lot will depend on vaccination and also the variants of COVID-19, entering into our lives. What we do know, is that staying indoors, even if it is just between family members, is more dangerous than being in a group, outside, while keeping safe social distance.

To be fair, although Marvel came up with the genius idea of using containers for the stage, the plan of bringing New York’s theatres to the outdoor came from New York’s Governor, Andrew Cuomo. He presented a concept called “NY Pops-up,” which included bringing 300 temporary theatres to life, in various parts of the city. The architecture firm, coming-up with the containers’ solution, just helped the project, making it more enticing to everyone, from the industry to the City’s administration.

The last step will be to test the concept. Marvel suggested using an empty parking lot, where it would install its container stage, temporarily. That way, operability and safety concerns could be verified, to make sure that the concept can be installed safely in the streets of NYC.