Streets are essentially used for movement. What makes them more functional and interactive are street furniture. Street furniture are objects and pieces of equipment installed on streets and roads for various purposes. Postboxes, benches, traffic stops, street lamps, garbage bins are some of the examples. When properly designed, they elevate the aesthetics of the street while serving multiple purposes.
Factors to consider when choosing street furniture
- Should be functional and used by the public.
- The layout of the street and its elements should be carefully decided.
- The form and appearance of the furniture should have continuity in the design of the street.
- They should be made of durable materials that are susceptible to harsh external conditions and vandalism.
- Should be cost-effective.
Significance of street furniture
- They aid the elderly and the disabled
- Socially, they bring people together and initiate interactions.
- Makes public spaces more welcoming and gives the users the pleasure of using it.
- Gives the street a sense of character and identity.
Here are a few examples of multipurpose and interactive street furniture designs from around the world that showcase how street furniture can elevate streetscape.
- Submerged Pier
- Please be seated
- Unire Unite
- Sky Garden
- Responsive street furniture
Submerged Pier by Westpol architects
- This is a unique seating space located in Austria.
- Being located in the midst of the lake, it gives the users the chance to enter the water body without getting wet.
- On sitting, the users can view the lake at eye level, which is an experience like never before.
- It helps the users connect deeper with nature.
Please be seated by Paul Cocksedge
- Made of reclaimed scaffolding boards, these benches are of the form of rippling waves.
- The waves rise to form arches under which people walk and fall to create space for people to sit, recline or sleep.
- It adds a sense of dynamism and rhythm to an otherwise plain street.
- Unlike most street art installations that obstruct space, these benches act as both aesthetic artworks and functional seating which engages the public.
Blackout by Tomaso Boano
- Unlike non mobile kiosks which are just street obstructions when they are not functional, this adaptive street furniture acts as both a kiosk and a seating sculpture.
- Its basic form is a cube with four different elevations that create interest. This is used as an intimate seating space.
- When the skin is lifted by the use of hydraulic columns, a customizable space opens up which can be used for commercial purposes like retail outlets or mini cinema.
- The lifted roof acts as a beacon, drawing public attention from afar.
- The advantage of this kiosk is that it is always functional and does not waste precious public space.
Superverde by Stefano Boeri
- The main material in this furniture is nature.
- It is composed of a portion of living soi, load bearing structures, frames and seating system made of metal.
- It comes inbuilt with an irrigation system and sensors for control and analysis of the wellness and moisture of soil.
- It is versatile and factors like scale, volume, shape, material and the vegetation can be altered helping it adapt to the context.
- This hybrid furniture serves both as a mini ecosystem for plants as well as a refreshing seating while reducing the temperatures of urban streets.
Unire Unite by Michael Caton
- The topography of this installation aims to include yoga postures in daily life.
- The material used is milled plywood which is flexible enough to achieve the continuous curves.
- The forms are organized in an infinity loop arrangement pierced by a path by the center.
- By engaging with the installations, users can form a deeper connection with their bodies.
- The deformations of the installations are not random, they are devised in such a way that the users’ body is received and stretched in a precise manner.
Sky garden by So? Architects
- It is a public installation in the form of a suspended garden.
- It has various plants and acts as a shading roof.
- The pulley system connecting the plants lets users explore each planter individually.
- The suspended garden is effective as an on the floor garden would have reduced the walkable surface of the busy square it is located on.
Responsive street furniture by Ross Attkins
- When designing street furniture, it becomes important to make it inclusive for people with disabilities.
- Features suitable for some might be disruptive for others.
- Responsive street furniture uses technology to make it adaptable for all kinds of people.
- Users can register after which their phones will be detected by the responsive system.
- Some examples of responsive changes are- brighter streetlights, extra time at the crossing, automatically unlocking seats and street furniture with audio.
Good street furniture design should be multifaceted, interactive and aesthetically pleasing.
The street experience can be made more functionally sound and immersive when creative uses of street furniture are implemented.