As the value of public spaces comes into focus, this article shares seven case studies of street furniture being used to help improve community wellbeing. Both tactical pop-ups and permanent installations are featured below, with examples of projects that foster community engagement and measure social impact. Street Furniture Australia products have been tried-and-tested to activate spaces and deliver results. Select from our range to bring life, joy and comfort to your community. Case 1. Creating Millions of Smiles Woden Experiment was a six-month prototype installation by the ACT Government that aimed to bring life, joy and comfort to Canberra’s Woden Town Square. Brightly coloured seats and tables were configured in random positions to create a casual and welcoming vibe. Community interviews, observations and workshops were at the heart of this …
White Paper: The Movable Seat
Lively, enjoyable public spaces start with inviting places to sit. Movable chairs offer the option to sit in groups, in pairs, to fly solo, to follow the sun or shade.
Deserted plazas become flexible, accommodating, hospitable, thanks to the introduction of freestanding seats and tables. Places are transformed.
Harvard Yard, Harvard University, Massachusetts. In 2009 the space is a walkway for marching to your next class. The university decides to make it a gathering place where students can mix with the larger community, starting with movable furniture.
“The response was enormously positive,” say Lizabeth Cohen and Mohsen Mostafavi, professors and co-chairs of Harvard’s Steering Committee on Common Spaces.
“Overnight, a vibrant and diverse population was pausing to meet, chat, doze, study, eat, watch performers, or simply sit down.
“The chairs hosted everything from seminar meetings, to the visiting Nobel-laureate capturing a moment of public solitude, to a spontaneous game of musical chairs engaging 70 participants.”
Similar effects are found in Times Square in New York, the city’s Bryant Park in all seasons, and the well established Luxembourg Gardens in Paris. Movable experiments are now popping up in Australian cities too.
Why does movable furniture work so well? Respected urban theorist William H Whyte suggests people appreciate the power of choice.
“If you know you can move if you want to, you feel more comfortable staying put,” he says.
Whyte and his team of researchers studied how people use parks and plazas in New York City in the 1980s. They found that, given the option, people will almost always move a chair before they sit, often just a little and even if it doesn’t seem to accomplish anything.
Perhaps it is a sense of control, of ownership over the seat, that draws people to move it, mused Whyte. You move it an inch forward and sit down and that chair becomes yours.
Do movable seats ‘walk’? Caretakers report that sometimes, yes they do, but losses tend to be minimal, particularly weighed against the value the seats bring to the space, the people they attract. Bryant Park loses just a few of its hundreds of movable chairs a year, and each chair is far less expensive than a fixed bench.
Risk can be mitigated by the level of pedestrian traffic in the area, businesses that also use the space and so become custodians, onsite supervision, overnight security and the weight of the seats. Installing tracking chips is another measure.
Weighed up against the enjoyment the movable furniture brings and the crowds it attracts, the balance is often deemed worth it.
As the populations in our cities grow and urban citizens expect higher quality amenities on their doorsteps, caretakers are investing in public spaces to attract and retain talent and in turn invigorate the economy.
Australians have always celebrated outdoor living, and as our backyards are shrinking public parks are becoming more agile, multi-functional spaces to bring better quality of life and give communities a chance to grow.
The new Forum Seat is designed as a hybrid between a patio and street furniture product, available as fixed or movable to provide the power of choice.
As William Whyte says, “One felicity leads to another. Good places tend to be all of a piece – and the reason can almost always be traced to a human being.”
Whether your felicity is people-watching, being part of the flock, or seeking peace and quiet in a perfect corner, movable seats build flexibility and comfort into a space. It’s your seat, your move.
See more information and specifications for Forum Seat.
Aluminium woodgrain, also known as ‘Wood Without Worry,’ provides the warm look of timber – retained over time – with the minimal maintenance requirements of powder coated aluminium. Where timber requires oiling every three months to keep it at its best, simply wipe down woodgrain aluminium with a clean, damp cloth every few months as required. See the new Wood Without Worry brochure. Enquire Now Select from five beautiful shades of wood: dark to light and cool to warm. Some Wood Without Worry battens require end caps. If this is the case, you may choose to match the end cap with the colour of the frame or batten. case studies Warm Tones Helping clients achieve a low maintenance, warm colour palette. Moore Street, Canberra by NettleonTribe.Aria Seat (CMA1) and Simple …
Designing streets for kids: Released in August by the Global Designing Cities Initiative, “Designing Streets for Kids,” offers strategies and solutions to redesign urban streets and public spaces by focusing on the needs of kids and caregivers, with the goal of making streets beautiful, fun – and safe. Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for young people ages 5-29 globally, and traffic congestion and vehicles contribute to high levels of air pollution, which is responsible for the death of 127,000 children under the age of five each year, the guide’s authors said. Many of these deaths, they said, can be dramatically reduced through kid-friendly street design. Read the Forbes article, How to Make Streets Kid-Friendly by Tanya Mohn. Image: A street in Fortaleza, Brazil, designed according to ‘Designing Streets …
A hybrid between backyard and street furniture seating, the Forum range can be used for both pop up and permanent installations. Inspired by the moveable chairs at the Luxembourg Gardens in Paris, users may bring chairs together or follow the shade for the perfect spot throughout the day. Add a splash of colour with high visibility powder coating, or opt for a classic look with Jarrah or anodised aluminium battens. Pair with matching cafe tables and rim bins for the perfect pop up setting. The Forum comes as a one, three or four seater, and can be specified up to six metres in length. Its comfortable upright profile is DDA compliant, with ample back and armrest support to assist in sitting and standing, matching the profile and price of our Park range. The seats can also be fixed to the ground via core drilling for …
AILA South Australia, the Australian Institute of Architects (AIA) and New Architects Group (NAG) packed out The Gallery in Adelaide with 180 landscape architects, designers, architects, students and industry professionals to celebrate the holiday season and new year. Two new Forum seats, a cross between a backyard and street furniture bench, and a Cafe Round table, all powder coated in brilliant Bistro Orange, took centre stage for Street Furniture Australia’s selfie contest. Entries featured a surprising number of matching orange accessories, selfies within selfies, and having a good time kicking up the heels, including: Erica Vidinis from Campbelltown City Council is our winner – congratulations, Erica! Visit Street Furniture’s Facebook page to see all of the entries.
Between lightbulb moments and deep thinking sessions, some 500 delegates of AILA’s 2015 Festival of Landscape Architecture recharged at Street Furniture Australia’s pop-up This Public Life Park. The four-day conference program included the likes of David van de Leer, Natalie Jeremijenko and Jenny B Osuldsen talking all things landscape architecture in Melbourne on October 15 to 18. Visitors kicked off their shoes to enjoy the freshly rolled-out park lawn in Federation Square with SFA sun lounges, cafe tables and Forum seats in the shade of leafy trees planted in brightly coloured rim bins. To celebrate the launch of SFA’s Forum seats, a cross between a backyard and street furniture bench, delegates posted selfies with their favourite Forum to Facebook for a chance to take it home. And the winners are: Special mentions go …