There’s hardly anywhere today where people are not talking about the environment. We constantly hear of global warming, going green and all the other lovely terms we use to describe the efforts we make to improve our environment.
But is that all that there is to it? Is it just about planting trees, recycling and the likes? Certainly not! Taking care of our environment also involves ensuring it looks and feels great. While all of the above mentioned activities do really contribute to this, one important aspect that may not be receiving as much attention as it should is street furniture.
What is Street Furniture?
Interestingly, this is a term that is not used globally. It’s only used in countries like the UK, Canada and Australia to describe any objects or items placed on the road, streets or other public areas for different purposes. You can read more about it here.
Examples of Street Furniture
These furniture are around us everywhere we go but for the purpose of clarity, here is a list of some items that fall into this category: waste receptacles, benches, bollards, traffic barriers, phone boxes, post boxes, streetlamps, sculptures, traffic lights, bus stops, traffic signs, taxi stands, tram stops, memorials, fountains, watering troughs, public lavatories and many more.
Benefits of Street Furniture
There are numerous benefits that the items listed above and those not listed bring to any environment. For a better understanding of these benefits, we will look at a few of them.
One of the very obvious benefits these furnitures offer is the aesthetic value it brings to the environment. When you look at any park around you, bus stations, water fountains and other such structures, you can immediately see how they make those environments look more visually appealing. Without these structures and items, our environments will be dull and practically lifeless.
Frederic Blerot, an Architect, has challenged designers to think more directly about how their designs can do more like help people meet and socialize. This is already a benefit of some of these furnitures like park benches, water fountains etc. However, they are likely just by-products and not the original intention.
In the hustle and bustle of the city, busy streets or roads, the right furniture can help keep things properly coordinated. They can be used for stuff like creating demarcations that make traffic flow easier, creating sections where people can wait for their transportation and more. Without proper coordination, our modern day environments will be totally chaotic.
This is one of the most important benefits. Just imagine that people did not have a way to cross a busy street and everyone just had to jay walk. Accident rates will skyrocket. Lives have also been saved because of the protective line that some of these furnitures provide. An example is structures that prevent vehicles from running off the streets and unto the curb or walk ways. There are so many safety benefits that we can and do enjoy with the right street architecture or structure. Read this to learn more: http://www.pedbikesafe.org/pedsafe/countermeasures_detail.cfm?CM_NUM=2
This is almost a continuation from the point above. A perfect example for this is the street light we now take for granted. How safe do you feel walking at night on a street without proper lighting? Some of these street items can be used to improve the security of the environment.
Direction and Navigation
Before the advent of navigation systems, we relied on the good old street signs. Even with our Google maps and other navigation systems, we still need these physical signs to confirm what our navigation system says. It will indeed be very scary if for reasons street signs were no longer available.
Health and Relaxation
Walking down the street, you suddenly feel a wave of nausea and really need to sit down briefly. You immediately look for the nearest bench and sit until you get yourself back together. Now imagine there were no such provisions? You will likely just collapse.
Can you also imagine a park without benches and other areas where you can relax? This ability to just sit down and relax is critical to our well-being.
Choosing the Right Furniture
From the list above, there could be the thinking that the task of putting up these structures or items falls squarely within the domain of the governments. If you however visit the website of any of the street furniture suppliers, you will find lots of designs and ideas that you as an individual can incorporate into your own immediate environment.
Your environment is actually very malleable. You can create whatever kind of environment you want if you have the right tools. Take a close look at your environment today and begin to visualize your ideal setting. If you can’t think of any, search for ideas and then get the right street architecture to create for yourself the kind of environment you desire.