New Yorkers produce a lot of hot air. Exhaust from buildings, infrastructure, and vehicles flows like an invisible river, untapped but ready to be put to work. This proposal suggests using this plentiful local resource in a straightforward way by redirecting compressor exhaust from New York food trucks to inflate small modular shelters (a.k.a. Wontons).

In doing so the food truck and the Wonton give useful shape to a ubiquitous but unseen resource and provide all of the ingredients necessary (i.e. food and shelter) for a New York street party. 

Wontons are designed to be modular. Individual units can group into a nearly infinite number of spatial arrangements, covering small areas or large ones. Clusters of Wontons create space without fully enclosing it. They openly engage the city at the same time that they provide shelter from it and room for communal activity. And because they are fabricated using techniques from commercial inflatables manufacturing, the standard details are easy to produce and extremely adaptable. The factory-built modules arrive on site as complete units, so setup is easy and requires minimal time (less than 30 minutes per Wonton / Food Truck pair) and minimal labor.

Wontons take New York’s exhaust and give the city something it can use: a spatially diverse and flexible way to adapt the public street to other public uses.


Client: Storefront for Art and Architecture

Location: Manhattan, NY

Program: Public

Size: modular

Engineering: Adams Rackes

Collaborators: IAI, Coolhaus

Proposed on February 9th, 2013