22 September 2020
How urban spaces are transforming and the role of street furniture
A big part of urban development is the role of street furniture. Well-designed furniture makes an urban space more sociable, inclusive, safer, and boosts communities. Benches provide functionality for people to sit, rest and socialise. Litter bins provide a place for refuse but importantly help keep outdoor areas clean. And now with the rise in smart urban furniture, it is only going to have a bigger impact on people’s lives.
Street furniture serves to create an ‘experience’ rather than just to look good and provide a functionality. It is integrated into urban realm to enhance the lives of the people who use it.
This is particularly relevant with the rise of smart urban furniture. Smart benches now provide WIFI access and recharging points. Smart lighting now detects movement and alters its brightness for people who have vision impairment or low vision.
One of the true benefits of smart street furniture is that it can be easily adapted to local environments. For example in the London borough of Islington, smart benches were adapted for World Cancer Day so users had the option to donate two pounds via a contactless payment to Cancer Research UK.
The last decade has seen a considerable shift in how urban spaces are designed and constructed across the world. Construction professionals have changed their practices from designing urban places around buildings and roadways, instead now focusing on public spaces and communities.
Town and city planners are increasingly realising that public places and urban spaces are most prosperous when they are designed around community-led initiatives. It boosts a community’s spirit, develops a culture and drives the economy.