Smart, Sustainable and Social: How you can achieve the outdoor space design trifecta
Date published 2 February 2023
From the way it’s made to its purpose and function, the latest street furniture is designed to meet human needs in a changing world. Smart, sustainable and social, it embodies the space-making design trends that are shaping the places we live, work and play in 2023.
Sustainability has been the defining trend of the last decade, based on our ever-deepening appreciation of the link between our health and wellbeing and the health of our environment.
Our quest for a cleaner, greener lifestyle is influencing every aspect of the design of our cities and towns – from new developments to the renewal of urban streetscapes and the rejuvenation of our parks and open spaces.
The integration of sustainable design principles in urban design has had a significant, flow on impact in the street furniture industry in New Zealand and globally. Today, the sustainable street furniture options available has dramatically expanded, underpinned by manufacturing processes that harness innovative, environmentally friendly technologies and materials. But how your street furniture is made isn’t the only thing to consider when planning and building future-focused outdoor spaces.
What’s next for your outdoor spaces?
At Urban Effects, the street furniture solutions we design, manufacture and supply are continually evolving in response to our client’s and the community’s desire for outdoor spaces that reflect, protect and enhance their lifestyle and environment – now and into the future.
In 2023, that’s all about taking sustainability to exciting new levels, with the addition of smart, eco-friendly features and an increased emphasis on social as well as environmental outcomes.
Smart, sustainable and social! We call it the outdoor space design trifecta. Here’s how you achieve it.
Think climate smart. Think smart technology. The future is now and street furniture that combines built-in energy and water saving features and promotes responsible waste management is in high demand.
- Climate smart spaces need climate resilient street furniture and amenities that ensure people have the ability to use and enjoy a space year-round, year in and year out. This includes permanent shelters and shade structures that provide protection rain, hail or shine, BBQs with power saving technology, and drinking fountains for ready access to fresh, clean water.
- Shelters can also be used to harness the sun’s power for good by installing solar panels like the Neo Shelter – Deluxe. Streets ahead in terms of style and function, the Neo Shelter features rooftop solar panels that power energy efficient LED lighting and charging stations for phones and other devices.
- Conveniently located drinking fountains are a must for parks, playgrounds, end of ride facilities, bike paths and walkways. Make sure they are fitted with anti-bacterial surfaces, water conservation features to manage water usage, and bottle fillers to help prevent single-use plastics entering landfill.
- Speaking of landfill, encourage a clean, litter free environment with high volume bins clearly marked with waste separation instructions.
Genuine, sustainably made street furniture considers the full life cycle of materials and products and wherever possible, seeks to limit any negative impacts on natural resources and people through the production process.
- Making the conscious choice to select quality furniture and equipment made from natural, recycled and recyclable materials that best suit your purpose and climate, maximises its durability, adaptability and usefulness, and minimises maintenance.
- Sustainably sourced, recycled and recyclable materials feature prominently in contemporary street furniture. Look for FSC and PEFC accredited timber, 100% recyclable aluminium and recycled concrete, corten steel and wood-plastic composites.
- Ask where the materials in a piece of street furniture come from. For example: The majority of the aluminium in our products is sourced locally through McKechnie, the world’s first aluminium smelter to receive CEMARS environmental certification and New Zealand’s only extruder to have a remelt which means its products have a high recycled content and low carbon footprint.
- Meanwhile, granite and marble street furniture is having a renaissance thanks to its sustainable qualities and enduring style. Seating, tables and bollards and planters made from this composite of natural stone offer amazing resilience against environmental conditions, ensuring optimal durability and lifespan.
Urban Effects welcomes your questions regarding the eco-credentials of products in our range. Read our full sustainability commitment.
One of the four pillars of sustainability, social sustainability focuses on the ways we can improve quality of life, reduce social inequality and respect the culture of a place and its people. But exactly how does street furniture contribute to social sustainability?
- All great outdoor spaces are inspired by place and people in equal measure: an understanding of ‘the place’ (location, landscape, history, use) and the ‘people’ (demographics, culture, lifestyle) who will use an outdoor space.
- When creating ‘places for people’, our ultimate goal is to increase the liveability of our urban environments and in the process, positively impact the health, happiness and wellbeing of individuals, families and communities as a whole.
- Our outdoor spaces are used in multiple ways by multitudes of people for any number of reasons. We might pass through a place as part of our daily commute. A location’s proximity might make it the perfect place to exercise, eat, relax or catch up with our neighbours or colleagues. Or we might travel to a destination to attend an event or celebrate a special occasion with family and friends.
- In response, the furniture and amenities we now see in parks and recreation spaces and our retail, commercial and cultural precincts are far more diverse and versatile. Every element serves a purpose and is positioned for maximum use: from table settings to seating, bike racks to BBQs.
- Even the humble park bench has undergone a transformation – with seating comprising different shapes, styles, sizes and lengths. This includes modular seating solutions like our Liffiton or Legend suites with complementary pieces that can be configured to create comfortable and inviting communal spaces.
- Last but certainly not least, accessible street furniture and amenities are integral to open planning and design, ensuring outdoor spaces can be enjoyed by everybody – regardless of age or ability.
Talk to us about your outdoor space project and tap into New Zealand’s largest range of smart, sustainable and social street furniture and equipment.