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 …
World-First Smart ‘ChillOUT Hubs’ Designed and Built in Australia
New experimental open-air smart hubs, created by Street Furniture Australia at our studio and factory in Western Sydney, have been officially launched by Georges River Council Mayor Kevin Greene on Thursday February 20, 2020.
“ChillOUT Hubs aim to offer some relief in our densifying cities by providing opportunities to meet, work or rest, and spend more time outdoors,” says Street Furniture Australia Head of Innovation June Lee Boxsell.
“Each hub packs a punch – integrating shade, seats and tables, charging stations, solar power, sensors, lighting, public WiFi, greenery, smart fountains and smart bins – a big feat combining tech, industrial design and placemaking,” she says.
Three hubs are already installed in the Georges River Council region in south Sydney as part of a pilot study for the Australian Government’s Smart Cities and Suburbs Program. They were the result of collaboration between the Council, the Smart Social Spaces research team from UNSW and the University of Sydney, and Street Furniture Australia.
Street Furniture Australia designed the hubs with input from its partners. Council undertook the overall project management, including installation. The Smart Social Spaces team is developing a digital asset management dashboard, and will evaluate the impact of the hubs with a formal study.
University of Sydney Associate Professor Nancy Marshall says her Smart Social Spaces research team was particularly interested in “how smart street furniture alters human behaviour in public open space, and how it might contribute to the community’s health and social well-being. We were also curious whether a dashboard could enable councils to more effectively manage their infrastructure,” she says.
“Person-on-the-street surveys are being conducted to give us a complete picture of why the hubs and their technologies are, or are not, being used. We are also analysing how the hubs impact the urban heat microclimate.”
Georges River Council Mayor Kevin Greene says that “as technology becomes more integrated into our lives, it’s important for councils to harness new technologies to better serve the needs of communities and improve services.”
“These new public spaces are an exciting achievement as we move towards our goal of creating a connected city,” he says.
Before sketching the hubs, Street Furniture Australia undertook a discovery process to understand the user needs and aspirations of each site.
“We wanted to tailor each ChillOUT Hub to serve its community rather than creating a one-size-fits-all solution. The three sites are very different; spending time in each brought us many insights that are built into each design,” says Boxsell.
“For example, we have an urban streetscape in Kogarah between the train station, hospital and library, surrounded by offices. There are people constantly passing through. The Kogarah ChillOUT Hub allows you to stop and eat your lunch outside, work using the charging stations, or wait in comfort for a ride.
“We created user personas for all three sites, and designed the hubs around their needs. The ChillOUT Hubs became a ‘system’ or a kit of parts for site-specific solutions.”
In the back end, the ChillOUT Hubs are connected to the IoT network to deliver data to councils to assist with decision-making, safety and maintenance management.
Sensors are embedded in the hubs to measure three areas: users, microclimate and utilities. Data sets include visitation and median dwell time; local UV, humidity and temperature levels; power and water use, and bin fill levels.
A digital dashboard, called SAMS (Smart Asset Management System), will display the information in one interface, and provide alerts for fire and power outage.
A Smart Future
The increase of high density living in cities brings greater pressure on public space to provide opportunities to rest, connect with community and immerse in nature. ChillOUT aims to test a model of how this could be achieved with smart furniture.
“In the context of smart cities, partnerships are vital in delivering successful outcomes. As long as there is a shared goal, a culture of trust and win-win outcomes, we believe collaborations are the way of the future for private industries,” says Boxsell.
“For Georges River Council, the Smart Social Spaces team and Street Furniture Australia, the community was at the heart of this project, so now it’s about listening to them to see how we can bring further amenity and enjoyment to their parks and public spaces. We are here to learn.”
Results will be shared in a White Paper and short film in mid-2020.
Key Partners and Suppliers
Smart city projects cannot be delivered alone. Some of our key collaborators include:
- CM+, architectural consulting
- LX Group, IoT and electronics
- Wattwatchers, energy monitoring
- Smartsensor, eBin sensors
- Onyx Solar
- Solar Power Australia
- TTW (Taylor Thomson Whitting) Engineering
- Superlight LED Lighting
- Total Control Electrical
- WaterGroup, IoT for the smart drinking fountain
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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 …
We’re pleased to share that the construction of our three ChillOUT Hubs is nearing completion, part of a pilot study for the Australian Government’s Smart Cities and Suburbs Program. ChillOUT Hubs are smart, open-air community spaces. The prototype installations offer people a free, comfortable place to meet, work and play. They also enable asset managers to monitor utilities, visitation and the microclimate. For more information see our article What Is ChillOUT? The official launch will take place in February 2020. The collaborative team of Georges River Council, UNSW and Street Furniture Australia will also host a series of events including a Council Knowledge Exchange, industry hackathon and tours to site. Please register your interest with Tiffany Hoy at email@example.com Here is an update from each site. A Streetscape – Belgrave …
How might we increase community connectivity, enable knowledge exchange and provide flexible spaces to meet, work and play? ChillOUT, a collaborative project by Georges River Council, UNSW and Street Furniture Australia, seeks to answer this question. Cities are becoming compact. With this increase in high density living there is greater pressure on public space to provide opportunities to rest, connect with community and immerse in nature. What are ChillOUT Hubs? ChillOUT Hubs are prototype smart open-air community spaces. Each hub is configured using a modular system of Smart Tree shade structures, street furniture and integrated technology. They feature public WiFi, device charging, seats and tables, smart bins, smart drinking fountains, lighting, planter boxes and artwork. One of the sites – in Mortdale – runs via solar power. Sensors will monitor …
Georges River Council’s partnership with UNSW and Street Furniture Australia has received a Highly Commended Award for Cross Sectoral Collaboration at the 2019 Smart City Awards by the Committee for Sydney. The awards celebrate projects and partnerships that address the fundamental challenges faced by cities, governments, industry and communities in Greater Sydney. The three partners were recognised for their collaboration on creating smart social spaces that improve the amenity and user experience of public open spaces, as well as helping to mitigate urban heat island effects at the micro level. The trio is one of the few teams to win both Round 1 and Round 2 grants from the Australian Government’s $50m Smart Cities and Suburbs Program. The Round 1 project, Smart Social Spaces, investigated how smart furniture can be …