A Perfect Balance: Site Furnishings that are Right for Your Site
Site or street furniture refers to the objects and equipment located in public spaces. It includes benches, bollards, street lamps and lighting, fountains, planters, sculptures, tree grates, waste receptacles and more. Site furniture is one of the essential elements of the urban environment. Although comparatively small in scale, it plays an essential role in representing the image of a city to residents and visitors alike – just think of the red telephone boxes of London and the Art Nouveau street lights of Paris, pictured above. Below are some examples of creative and inspiring site furnishings from around the world.
If you already have an idea of what site furnishings you want to include in your next project, you can search "site furnishings" on CADdetails.com to see various products that can inspire you.
Tree Grates Combine Poetry and Science in Melbourne
HeineJones, an interdisciplinary design consultancy based in Melbourne, Australia, designed an interpretive solution describing the function and intent of a rain garden installed as part of a streetscape redevelopment plan. Twenty‐ two trees that use Water Sensitive Urban Design principles are planted along the footpath, collectively forming a rain garden using rainfall to wash the streets and water the trees. The remaining water is filtered, cleansed and fed into the Maribyrnong River.
HeineJones’ highlighted the function and intent of the rain garden as a piece of poetry, laser cut though the 10mm steel plate of the tree grates, pictured above. Presented in different scales and languages including English, Chinese, Vietnamese and Arabic, the urban poem includes large words that form abstract snippets of information about the rain garden, with the poem in its entirety reproduced in smaller type.
The intent of the design is to engage the public in an emotive and legible way, whereby the passage and movement of the water into the system is through the information itself.
HeineJones’s solution for this project received a Merit award in 2012 at the Society of Environmental Graphic Design annual conference and Global Design Awards presentation in New York City.
The David Byrne Bike Racks of NYC
Musician and avid cyclist David Byrne has created a new set of funky, typographical bike racks for the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM). And bonus: These things will change over time.
The former Talking Heads frontman stumbled into creating his first racks via a bicycle rack competition in which he was serving as a judge. When he decided to submit his own design, the transportation department “enthusiastically agreed to install” it. His first nine racks were designed for particular spots across Brooklyn and Manhattan: A location near Bergdorf Goodman got the high heel rack, while Wall Street got the dollar sign rack, pictured above. The bike racks were originally installed as temporary public art works, but they are now on permanent loan to the City.
Byrne’s new racks at BAM come in the form of letters. The Byrne bike racks allow the creation of only certain letters in the alphabet, creating a special ‘Byrne Bike Rack Alphabet’. The first word formations—“PiNk cRoWN”, pictured above, and “MicRo LiP”—are selected by Byrne himself. In the future, you might get to help design the next round of bike racks as BAM says it will reach out via social media to solicit suggestions for additional letters and words to be used for the “ever‐evolving installation.”
Trash Talk in NYC Central Park
The Central Park Conservancy works to restore, maintain, and enhance New York City’s Central Park, one of America’s most beloved urban spaces, with more than 40 million visitors a year. Thanks to a grant from the Alcoa Foundation, the Conservancy recently enlisted Landor Associates’ New York office to collaborate on a new trash and recycling initiative. The Conservancy identified several requirements for the new waste and recycling system, including reducing the number of compacting trucks in the park and making hand collection easier and more efficient for Conservancy staff. With these goals in mind, Landor recommended creating a suite of three receptacles: one for waste, one for bottles and cans, and one for paper recycling.
Drawing inspiration from different aspect of the historic park’s landscape and architecture, most notably the iconic 1939 New York World's Fair bench, Landor’s creative team designed the receptacles to meet the functional and operational needs of this highly trafficked, urban park, with an emphasis on creating a product that would be easy to manufacture and maintain.
The receptacles are fabricated completely in the United States by Landscape Forms and are environmentally sustainable, made from 30 percent recycled aluminum, which in turn is infinitely recyclable. The bins are finished with an environmentally‐friendly, triple‐layer powder coat. As a result of this considered design and manufacturing process, and local sourcing, the bins can be included for LEED certification points in future architectural projects.
The initiative will replace all of the park’s current plastic trash “toters” with more than 700 of the newly designed receptacles. To help change visitor behavior, the design team employed color‐coding and different‐sized apertures to make the act of self‐ sorting recyclables more intuitive. The tilt of the vertical slats, the spiral gesture of the barrel and lid, and typographic placement were all utilized to draw the user’s eye up and into the receptacles’ apertures, and also to reinforce decision‐making as users approach the bins.
The Central Park Conservancy receptacles have received praise from the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation, the Public Design Commission, the press, and park visitors, as well as a 2014 Design Merit Award from the Society for Experiential Graphic Design (SEGD). But their true success has been proven by the measured 35% increase in recycling since their deployment.
These five examples highlight the ability of great public furniture to inspire innovation, strengthen sustainability, uplift a community and define creative, meaningful, and memorable public spaces.