ASK Studio

“It makes you want to smoke so you can be in it.”

These days, there are few habits considered more passé than smoking. New York City started the smoking ban trend, but now lighting up is limited or outlawed in a staggering number of public spaces in cities all over the world. As a result, smokers are often relegated not just to the outdoors, but to restricted, designated spaces away from building entrances that may or may not provide any shelter. 

That’s why one of the more surprising architectural creations being recognized within the design world this year is a shelter specifically for smoking.

The Corinthian Gardens Smokers Shelter is a 275-square-foot structure in Des Moines, Iowa, created by local architectural firm ASK Studio. It’s located near — but not too near — an apartment complex and is used as a smoking oasis for residents of the building. Last month, Residential Architect  recognized the work as one of the three winners in the “outbuilding” category for its annual awards competition.

“It’s the sort of structure that has the feel of a private clubhouse for the tobacco-initiated,” juror Cary Bernstein said, in recognizing the project. “It makes you want to smoke so you can be in it.”

ASK Studio

Brent Schipper, a founding principal of ASK Studio, says the project was for a longtime client who needed to come up with a creative way to keep smokers away from the building’s main entrance. The solution they conceived was a sort of yard sculpture that would not be “readily apparent.” A sidewalk leading from the complex’s established parking lot provides a path to the smoking shelter, which is “nestled among the shadows of the surrounding trees,” according to the project statement.

“The space was required to ‘hide’ smokers during the day, but allow persons to be seen after dark and by security cameras for safety,” Schipper explains.

To accomplish this feat, architects made the shelter with concrete and composite wood, and metal screening on the southern side is opaque from the street, creating the illusion of invisibility during the day. 

“A shelter for smokers may seem a counterintuitive undertaking,” Schipper says,  “but it is there for safety and to make a better aesthetic for the community.”

 

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. Transportation

    You Can’t Design Bike-Friendly Cities Without Considering Race and Class

    Bike equity is a powerful tool for reducing inequality. Too often, cycling infrastructure is tailored only to wealthy white cyclists.

  2. Equity

    The FBI's Forgotten War on Black-Owned Bookstores

    At the height of the Black Power movement, the Bureau focused on the unlikeliest of public enemies: black independent booksellers.

  3. Design

    A History of the American Public Library

    A visual exploration of how a critical piece of social infrastructure came to be.

  4. Design

    There’s a Tile Theft Epidemic in Lisbon

    With a single azulejo fetching hundreds of euros at the city’s more reputable antique stores, these tiles, sitting there out in the open, are easy pickings.

  5. Amazon HQ2

    Without Amazon HQ2, What Happens to Housing in Queens?

    The arrival of the tech company’s new headquarters was set to shake up the borough’s real estate market, driving up rents and spurring displacement. Now what?