Up on the roof

rooftop art installations, unseen views from the streets, big city rooftop art, rooftop life, conversions of urban rooftops, urban farming, rooftop farming, what’s happening in New York, bivouac in New York, techno pigeons, urban camping, artists Ella and Pitr, Sommeils Lourds,

In big, vertical cities, finding space to relax or enjoy a respite from the urban jungle is sometimes a challenge. But many enterprising artists and entrepreneurs have been using vertical space creatively in public and private locations.

By converting empty rooftops into very innovative spaces – from farms to campgrounds, cities everywhere are utilizing what was once vacant space and creating site-specific environments for city dwellers to enjoy.

What’s really happening about street level? Things that are unknown to us from below, but add visual excitement, diversity and texture to a cityscape from above. Here’s a sampling.

They might be giants around the globe

rooftop art installations, unseen views from the streets, big city rooftop art, rooftop life, conversions of urban rooftops, urban farming, rooftop farming, what’s happening in New York, bivouac in New York, techno pigeons, urban camping, artists Ella and Pitr, Sommeils Lourds,

rooftop art installations, unseen views from the streets, big city rooftop art, rooftop life, conversions of urban rooftops, urban farming, rooftop farming, what’s happening in New York, bivouac in New York, techno pigeons, urban camping, artists Ella and Pitr, Sommeils Lourds,

Huge figures are napping and lounging high above, hidden from busy streets. French street artists Ella and Pitr are their creators. Their images of giants are universal and relatable, presented simply, with a quiet intimacy.

In 2013, this short film was the stepping stone to Sommeils Lourds (Heavy Sleep). The collection has grown. Ella and Pitr have created giants in France, Portugal, Canada, Chile and Italy.

According to GOOD, their art serves to “underline the chaos of our cities. We love seeing these giants sleeping in the middle of noise, cars, building, pollution… We are like small ants. When you walk on the drawing, you can’t see it. It’s abstract.”

Happy campers, of the urban kind around New York

rooftop art installations, unseen views from the streets, big city rooftop art, rooftop life, conversions of urban rooftops, urban farming, rooftop farming, what’s happening in New York, bivouac in New York, techno pigeons, urban camping, Bivouac,

This is not just camping. Well, it is, but it’s an artistic experience too. Bivouac NY is an urban camping experience on the roof of a building. The host and camp leader, artist Thomas Stevenson, has created and built six lean-tos.

Stevenson installs them on selected rooftops in the spring and fall, and gathers his flock of up to 18 urbanites. Campers are instructed to bring a sleeping bag and food to share. Absolutely no electronics. It’s semi-roughing it for a night, and a unique, communal experience of having one foot in, and one out of a city.

Technicolor pigeons perch in the UK

rooftop art installations, unseen views from the streets, big city rooftop art, rooftop life, conversions of urban rooftops, urban farming, rooftop farming, what’s happening in New York, bivouac in New York, techno pigeons, urban camping, Walker Art Gallery,

High atop a museum in Liverpool UK, the rooftop of the Walker Art Gallery was transformed into a coop of a different sort. Artist Patrick Murphy created an installation consisting of 180 brightly-painted birds that roosted on the roof of the landmark during its 2012 Biennial. The theme was The Unexpected Guest.

The Head of Fine Art stated “Patrick’s piece is accessible, fun and quirky but also has an interesting message and depth.” According to the artist, the much-maligned pigeon represented social groups that have trouble finding a natural home or finding inclusion.

The colorful birds greeted incoming visitors from above.

Green is the new green in New York

rooftop art installations, unseen views from the streets, big city rooftop art, rooftop life, conversions of urban rooftops, urban farming, rooftop farming, what’s happening in New York, bivouac in New York, techno pigeons, urban camping, Eagle Street Rooftop Farm, Brooklyn Grange,

rooftop art installations, unseen views from the streets, big city rooftop art, rooftop life, conversions of urban rooftops, urban farming, rooftop farming, what’s happening in New York, bivouac in New York, techno pigeons, urban camping, Eagle Street Rooftop Farm, Brooklyn Grange,

Hovering high above the shoreline of the East River, with a sweeping view of the Manhattan skyline, sits Eagle Street Rooftop Farm, a 6,000 sq. ft. organic vegetable farm located atop a warehouse in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.

Eagle Street is one of the many urban farms overlooking the city while supplying fresh produce to area restaurants during the growing season. At Brooklyn Grange, its business is growing food as well as creating green spaces – another important aspect of new urban development in dense cities.

Brooklyn Grange created the beautiful Rooftop Meadow on the roof of Vice Media’s location in Williamsburg.

I love and applaud urban/vertical farming efforts, and the greening of New York City.

The next time you’re walking along a quiet city street – look up – you may notice a special something that you’ve never seen before. Or even better, go up on the roof and check it out.

As The Drifters sing in their classic hit:

“I climb way up to the top of the stairs
And all my cares just drift right into space
On the roof, it’s peaceful as can be
And there the world below can’t bother me…”

Images > Giants art: © Ella & Pitr / Bivouac: Mark Römisch / Pigeons: Colin Lane / © Eagle Street / © Brooklyn Grange

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