Chiara Del Core 3 feb 2021 Design 0 comments

Urban furniture and sustainability

The growing progress in terms of sustainability applied to the urban environment guarantees the use of solutions designed for energy saving. These are measures also applied to street furniture, which are able to exploit renewable resources and in some cases produce energy. In fact, more and more photovoltaic panels and films are integrated into bus shelters, seats in parks and even information totems. These elements are designed to convert the energy from the sun's rays into useful energy to power the lighting of the shelters or the charging systems for mobile devices.

Left: smart solar seats with systems for recharging the devices
Right: seat equipped with green inserts capable of purifying the air inside the city streets

Mobility is also interpreted in a "green" key, through solutions that encourage the use of alternative means such as bicycles and electric cars. Today the city streets are home to more and more charging stations for electric cars and bike racks. Both elements will be equipped with interactive and multifunctional systems, capable of powering the vehicles, providing for the necessary stall and providing additional services such as info points, medical assistance and SOS station for personal safety. In this way, in addition to improving the management and use of urban arteries, thanks to the reporting of traffic congestion or work in progress, the experience of the citizen who is the main user is optimized. In addition, there is a considerable decrease in harmful CO2 emissions caused by the excessive use of classic vehicles, resulting in a higher quality of air and health of citizens.

From an environmental point of view, it should be noted that the marked improvement in air quality is accompanied by the increase in public green areas. In this regard, the demand for urban spaces intended for parks and gardens that can be used by the community is growing. It is therefore considered necessary to properly design these areas, complemented by the inclusion of environmentally friendly and aesthetically pleasing furniture. For example, sports areas are sometimes set up inside urban parks where the citizen can help power the lighting system of the avenues which is essential during the night. In fact, through physical activity, the energy necessary for public street lamps is produced to diffuse the light. The presence of interactive totems allows the user to be informed about the quantification of his activity from an energy point of view. In this way the citizen becomes an integral part of the territorial system and concretely contributes to its correct functioning.

It is therefore clear that there is an increasing focus on the optimization of renewable resources within the urban scenario, with a view to making use of increasingly efficient collective spaces.

Urban furniture and redevelopment

Unfortunately, the furnishing components that occupy the streets, squares and city parks are often considered ancillary and negligible elements within the city. This consideration is caused by the unawareness of how much seating, waste collection baskets, bike racks, street lamps, play and sports equipment are essential for the proper livability of the area. The concrete demonstration of this concept is represented by the redevelopment projects of entire urban lots. In fact, in order to create healthy, functional areas and able to increase sociability, it is essential to include equipped areas that favor exchange and meeting.

It is good to remember how a place without meeting areas, equipped with seats and equipment, represents a non-place, a real urban void reluctantly frequented by people. The redevelopment of the same area in which elements of vegetation and furniture are inserted, will lead to the recovery of a sense of community, an increase in user flows and greater safety for the citizen. In some cases, previously neglected and marginal areas become new attraction poles which, in addition to benefiting the user, are a potential socio-economic driving force for the entire neighborhood.

Let's see how some examples made become concrete expressions of what has been said.

Kic Park - Shanghai, China - Francesco Gatti - 2009
The ambitious redevelopment project of a space considered residual, in the new university area within the city of Shanghai, led to the construction of a small park inserted in the dense urban fabric. The lot has taken on a strong and recognizable identity thanks to the presence of a wooden stalls which, through fluid plastic movements, become urban furniture and green spaces. The natural material communicates closely with the sections of vegetation, rare in a city where overbuilding has taken over. In this case, the furniture in addition to fulfilling its function, restores identity to an otherwise neglected area, recreating a space for meeting and dialogue between people.


Doria Castle - Dolceacqua (Imperia) - LDA + SR - 2015
The recovery of the ancient Castle of Dolceacqua has included a redevelopment project for the entire area, aimed at improving the relationship between the building and the context in which it is inserted. To this end, an area intended for a public garden has been inserted at the foot of the castle, within which some seats have been inserted to encourage sociability and the recovery of the previously abandoned area. Urban furniture is here the protagonist of the enhancement of the lot and favors the usability of the areas surrounding the castle, increasing the flow of tourists and local inhabitants.

Photo: Andrea Bosio
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