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Charleston's Whimsy: A Hipster's Guide

What can we learn from a repurposed shipping container on a downtown Charleston sidewalk? Charleston South Carolina is the quintessential southern town, known for it's historic architecture, it's foodie scene and its southern charm. But beyond the brick streets and the perfectly preserved shops are inventive and whimsical designs for the 21st century like this alternative to standard sidewalk scaffolding. How does a historic city stay relevant and even hip? Change the small stuff to make a big difference.

In Miami, we think big! We have tons of failed megaprojects--monolithic buildings and complexes that were the panacea for Miami's renaissance. We may not have the sheer number of historic buildings like Charleston, but we can learn from some of their simple and creative design solutions.

Shipping Container as Sidewalk Extension:

The typical approach to construction next to sidewalk is an elaborate system of scaffolding to protect people walking from being hit by falling construction debris. They are usually ugly and pretty utilitarian. Enter the ubiquitous shipping container. You've seen them converted into galleries, retail spaces and temporary housing. Here, several are connected together to create a covered tunnel. The vibe is modern and industrial and it fits in perfectly against Charleston's historic backdrop. As an added bonus, the kids enjoyed it too.


A Secret Garden:

Leave it to the littlest one to find the biggest gem. I think this is just terrific. No longer is the ubiquitous sidewalk grate the gateway to a mysterious underground world--it's an opening to a secret garden of ferns and green plants. I'd like to think that this happened accidentally, but it's more likely that the shop owners created this little oasis to add some green to an otherwise gray sidewalk. There's not much room for trees on the typically narrow sidewalks. Here's an inventive solution to finding space for more plants.