Storefront Transformer: Magic Box Reprograms Empty Space

modular shop design concept

From urban blight to versatile site, one modular cube can convert unused storefronts of New York City into flexible destinations – community workshops one day, performance spaces or pop-up shops the next. Think: AirBNB for retail space meets coworking venue and co-op incubator all in one kit of parts.


Architecture Commons describes the “miLES [made in the Lower East Side] Storefront Transformer [as] a versatile set of furnishing and amenities to program any storefront – essentially a 6ft cube that can be easily transported and subdivided to roll through any storefront door.”

modular cube deployment options

The idea is to make any particular configuration easily obtained and changed on demand. “When unfolded, the Transformer provides functional elements such as shelving, partitions, tables, seats, stage, as well as infrastructure such as lighting, WIFI, power strips, speakers, projectors, and PA system so you have all the basic ingredients to create your own pop-up!”

modular store pieces parts

Their current Kickstarter campaign aims to fund a prototype to be built and installed later this year in one of the 200+ empty store fronts on the Lower East Side of Manhattan.

community modular space program

“Imagine a shape-shifting storefront, one space, many possibilities: from an independent arts space one week to designer fashion boutique the next; from cooking classroom on Thursday to locavore snack bar on Friday.”

modular pop up themes

The goal is to provide a boon for all parties involved, including the building owner, local community and those who could use a bit of space but can’t afford full-time rent.

storefront popup weekly events

storefront activation modular program

“We make it quick and easy to turn underutilized storefronts into anything you can imagine. We give entrepreneurs and artists an easy and affordable way to showcase their work. The neighborhood gets a variety of vibrant programmed uses in a previously vacant space. Landlords get short-term rental income and increased visibility to help them find a longer-term tenant for their space. It is a win-win proposition for multiple stakeholders. “