Five Fantastic Ideas for Public Furniture in Cities

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In the search for public furniture there is great deal to be considered; cities need to consider the socio-economic history of an area as well as the surrounding community’s hopes for the area’s future. The ability of great public furniture to inspire innovation and pride can uplift a community and revitalise public spaces. A spirit undeniably embodies in these five fantastic ideas for public furniture.

1. New York City

New York City is a metropolis that famously produces iconic symbols of the modern urban lifestyle. Catering to a population addicted to creativity and design yet driven by calls for environmental sustainability and cultural relevance. In the past few years the city has seen an increasing number of its outdoor public spaces reinvented through benches. A trend that gained traction when the city started to re-develop forgotten public areas turning them into plazas,  such as its waterfront. Changing social factors such as decreasing crime rates and a decreasing homeless population have allowed for this trend to grow. When asked Mr. Balsley, the landscape architect who worked on Governors Island (a 70-ha island in Upper New York Bay) said,  “We want people to feel comfortable. We need to get away from this whole notion that you must sit upright and face this direction. That is so old school.”

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2. London

This year in a continuation of the rejuvenation of the Lower Marsh market in London the Waterloo Quarter Business Improvement District (BID) commissioned London’s Aberrant Architecture to design a “Roaming Market”. Aberrant Architecture created this mutli-functional stall with features such as a covered seating area, two seats and a small table, a roof-top stage as well as a signpost perfect for providing directions for the surrounding area. While the Roaming Market temporarily takes place in London from 27 June to 31 July, one cannot deny the potential the stall has to improve the street-food experience in cities all over the world increasing accessibility through portability.

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3. Maastricht

Belgian designer Sebastian Wiernick is no stranger to the challenges of creating public benches. Known for his signature usage of flexible polyethylene tubes (plastic bottle waste), Wiernick has filled numerous public spaces and cafés with these futuristic looking creations equipped with their own lighting. This combination of public art and public furniture almost instantly forces those interacting with it to reevaluate current perceptions of furniture, wastage and space.

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4. Amsterdam

How do you make a bench without using any screws or glue? Simple, you get a bundle of bamboo and tie it together with steel bits. This piece of public furniture is not only exceptionally aesthetically pleasing but rumour has it, these benches are particularly comfortable. A product of ‘Pile Isle”, an interesting design project started by two Dutch designers Elena Goray and Christoph Tönges. The most outstanding benefit of the bamboo bench being its inherent ability to connect urban areas with the surrounding vegetation. This connection not only enhances the environment but enhances the experience for citizens, introducing an element so relaxing it almost makes you forget you are in the middle of a concrete jungle.

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5. Zurich

In April this year the Zurich City Council installed the Velokafi along the bank of the Limmat River. This temporary cyclist drive-in was part of the city councils attempts to reduce vehicle traffic by encouraging and catering to pedestrians and cyclists. The Velokafi comes complete with two wooden docking stations (for those looking to share a meal/beverage) and a nicely sized table, designed to allow cyclists to enjoy a coffee break without leaving their seats. The latests statistics predict that by 2050 the number of cyclists in Zurich will be double current numbers.

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By Anade Situma at Future Cape Town - a This Big City partner site. 

Images via Teena Wildman, David Carlson, Future Cape Town, LYN Fabrikken, Suchart 77 and Knstrct

  • Elizabeth Rodriguez

    I’m afraid the stall looks as though it will tip over if people on the top start moving around a lot. And, skateboarders will go nuts for bench in the second picture. But, the bamboo bench is GREAT!

  • Lee Ellman

    I just don;t get what the problem is with skate boarders. In our community they are wonderful timesharers of the parks spaces, waiting until those times when the other users are leaving for the day. I have yet to see the damage predicted on our granite block benches. As for their being attracted to the second pictured bench, the Highline Park is so controlled that there is no one permitted but walkers – no dogs, skates boards, etc.
    Want something to worry over? Bees & wasps taking up residence in those bamboo tubes!

  • siva sai

    These things work in less denser cities….