Street Furniture Revamped in Eco-Style

What have a bike parking, a bench, a lamp, a flowerpot, a library and a bin in our streets in common? –They often lack some innovative eco-design features.
The Catalan Government together with the UAB university and the company Zicla have therefore invited 6 designers to come up with more eco-friendly urban elements. Here are the results presented to us last week in Barcelona:• Eco Bike Parking by Novell/Puig Design

The majority of bike parkings are commonly made of steel, which is recyclable but very energy intense. Changing the material has been the major transformation for Novell/Puig’s bike parking design. Their version is made from a single moulded recycled (and fully recyclable) plastic. It could be described as a rectangular pillar with holes to chain the bike to it. We are a bit worried about the safety of our bikes as this bike stand seems to make it difficult to attach both the wheels to it. Like the standard ones, it allows two bikes to park but on top it minimises the visual impact as well as the amount of material used. Therefore the Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) shows 115% less negative global environmental impact compared to standard bike parkings.

Eco benches by Lievore Altherr Molina

When it comes to street benches, the choice of material often isn’t the most eco-efficient; galvanised steel, tropical wood with high maintenance, heavy concrete, un-recyclable toxic mixtures… This is why Lievore Altherr Molina also chose to concentrate on the material. They basically designed 5 shapes that can be fitted to create different benches (flat, with or without back support, …) These shapes could be made of two different material mixtures depending on its environment. The first option is a hard mixture, made from concrete and recycled bits. It is used for urban places with harsh climates and stronger social impacts (skateboarders, etc.) The second mixture is a softer one for less harsh conditions, made form a concrete base with recycled bits and recycled plastic sediments. The LCA results in only 20% less global environment impact for the soft bench whereas the hard one results in 140% less impact.

Eco Streetlight or Farola Viva by Capella Garcia Architects

The Farola Viva (living streetlight) distinguishes itself by quite a few features from ordinary streetlights, in first place because it is alive. Its trunk has a mesh system which allows plants to grow up it. Only when you look up, you notice it’s not a plant but therefore you see a leaf-like quite well integrated solar panel. This as well as the leaf-sized LED lights and the optional leaf-seat give it an overall natural look. Another concern to the Capalla Garcia Architects was the light pollution. They therefore made the height of the light adjustable and concentrated the diffusion of the light. Interesting are the results of the LCA: Using solar panels + batteries, the Farola Viva has 50% to 190% (for Lithium batteries) less environmental impact than standard streetlights. Using solar panels and selling the electricity back to the net while taking from it, which eliminates the use for batteries: 160% less impact. No solar panels: still 50% less impact due to its different uses, choice of material(100% recycled cement) and modest lighting.

Eco Flowerpot by Curro Claret

Curro Claret took on the heavy square flowerpots and transformed them into lightweight, happy-looking beautiful ones. The distinction again lies in the choice of material but also in the shape. Curro chose organic round forms which adapt easier to the urban environment. The chosen materials used are 100% recycled and can be combined: rubber from old truck tyres, reused raffia fibre or truck tarps. These flexible materials make the flowerpots fairly soft, comfortable to sit on and less of an accident hazard. Another great advantage of these funky sacks is their lightweight, which reduces the transportation impact drastically. Overall they have 95% less negative environmental impact than standard urban flowerpots.

Eco Micro Space or Mobile Library by Estudio Roselló

The Mobile Library consist of a prism made from steel, insulated with carpet waste, fitted with a flooring made of rubber waste and FSC wood furniture. On top of that it has collapsible solar panels and a LED lighting system which could allow it to work independently from any electricity network. The special effect consists of it opening and closing like a book. It’s environmental impact (not counting the energy consumption) is 70% less than other existing micro spaces.

Ecobin by Gonzalo Milá

Gonzalo Milá’s Ecobin has 4 basic parts: a body, made from recycled plastic, a galvanized steel structure, a ring to hold the bin bag and a platform to support its weight. A nice extra are the different bin openings to differentiate what each bin is for and make recycling easier. This bin has 80% less environmental impact due to the choice of materials and its recyclability.

More about these in spring when the designers will have further developed their ideas and made the prototypes. ::UAB (in Catalan) ::ICTA (in Castellano)

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