NYC Artist Transforms Manhole Steam Into Chimney Smoke in Tiny House Art Installation

Bright orange steam tubes rising from manholes are a common sight on New York City streets, as much a nuisance for drivers trying to avoid them as they are an eyesore for residents — but one artist is attempting to transform the image with a little "whimsy."

Brooklyn-based artist Mark A. Reigelman II has built a roving tiny house to install over steaming manholes on city streets, and the result is the appearance of steam pouring from the chimney of a small cabin. 

The 350-pound house, made out of steel and three types of wood, has made appearances on Broadway Avenue and Grand Street, First Avenue and East 12th Street, and Park Avenue and East 27th Street, according to Slate

Reigelman told NBC 4 New York he's been installing the house over steam tubes since last December and has been trying to make it a monthly event, but "because steaming manholes change regularly," he's only been able to install it successfully three times.

The installations have lasted anywhere from 30 seconds to three hours. Reigelman hopes to continue installing the cabin in Manhattan throughout the year.  

Reigelman acknowledged there were some safety and traffic risks associated with the rolling house, but said he tries to limit them.

He told Slate there are four people on site at all times to help direct traffic, and that while there is "always a chance of unforeseen problems," he "weighed these chances against the awesomeness of the installation and decided that it was worth the risk."

Reigelman drew inspiration for the project — called Smökers — from Rauchermann figurines, German wooden incense smokers that take the form of cottages, animals and chimney sweeps, according to his website. The final cabin structure took approximately four weeks to be built.

Smökers has not gone unnoticed by the NYPD. According to Reigelman, the police, as well as the city’s residents, have responded positively to his project, as long as it does not cause any traffic issues.

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