How can Chicagoan's continue to enjoy dining out during the pandemic this winter?
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought a variety of challenges to residents of Chicago and Chicago’s business owners. Businesses that rely on socializing and/or having people in close proximity to one another are especially vulnerable to COVID-19 mitigation efforts, like social distancing and robust ventilation. Restaurants, bars, and cafes are business types that have been able to open for safe on-site service as the weather warmed up in the city.
Now, the City of Chicago is trying to think through how to keep the neighborhood businesses (especially restaurants and bars) open during the late Fall and Winter as the weather turns colder. Takeout and delivery will remain options but they often do not provide sufficient revenue to keep these places in business. As such, designing ways to attract customers to go out to their neighborhood restaurants and stay on-site for their meals is the priority in this design challenge. To view the complete design challenge and other concept submissions, click here.
Pallatable is the title for this Chicago Winter Dining concept submission. This solution creates a safe, attractive, and comfortable environment for outdoor dining in these streetscape pavilions that use reclaimed materials and windscreens to cut the brutal winter breezes. These components fit into the simple steel frame which supports a polycarbonate roof. There are open areas above the side panels to allow for some air flow to address COVID concerns. Warmth is added by portable radiant heaters, many restaurants already utilize.
The design features an overall metal frame with a reclaimed shipping pallet wall at the back. The pallets are stacked up on metal rods, double-sided with an interior windscreen. This solution provides sturdiness and wind reduction to help with warmth. Reclaimed shipping pallets are the most used elements for the design and can be elevated to provide an upscale feel. The spaces can be created to any size, using basic steel "I" beam sizes to create the modules. The side panels can be any material: a louvered frame, stacked sticks, hay bales, it is up to the imagination and design of the individual brand. Lastly, the canopy enclosure is a polycarbonate roof. A lightweight material used for awnings allows light to pass through, as well as protection from the elements.
These pavilions provide intimacy for the dining experience and create opportunities for branding and individualization. The design is inclusive for any restaurant, it can be branded for upscale or quick-service restaurants alike. Given the low cost for the solution, and the ability to sell sponsorship advertising, these could be turned around in an 8-week implementation.
Using a shipping container as the base, we customized a series of modular features to provide adaptability for individual restaurant branding and screening from the weather. Laser-cut sliding panels can be adapted for each brand and provide an opportunity to cut the wind, but allow for some airflow. The floor within the shipping container can have a radiant heating element. Simple interior decor can take this ordinary box to an extraordinary experience. Streets like Randolf (represented here) are perfect for this application.
This solution combines readily available shipping containers with modularity and customization. The foundation is a 40' shipping container, but smaller containers can be used. The novelty of this design is in the customization opportunities and the consideration of minimizing wind transfer but keeping some circulation.
The CNC routed screens can be made of 1" thick MDF, giving rigidity to handle strong winds, but an openness to allow air circulation to minimize virus spread. With form and function in mind, the CNC routed sliding panels allow for a balance of airflow with a windscreen and creates a branded design feature. Plexi dividers added in smaller areas, minimize potential virus transfer. Given the structural nature of the container, radiant heat can be added in the floor to provide warmth. A ramp can also be added for ADA access. There are a number of opportunities for restaurant branding and sponsorship signage.
The design is inclusive for any restaurant, it can be branded for upscale or quick-service restaurants alike. Given the low cost for the solution, and the ability to sell sponsorship advertising, these could be turned around in an 8-week implementation.