What makes a city and a village so different? If we talk conceptually and do not take into account the size of the population, land area or facilities…
Then we talk about opportunities, which a city gives for comfortable interaction between unfamiliar people. We talk about a cultural level, which goes beyond “friend-stranger” dichotomy. We talk about free and equipped public spaces, which work both as trading hubs and as places for casual encounters and other types of communication.
Classical prototypes of such public spaces go back to the Middle ages — those are Italian piazzas and piazzettas. Or, for example, Agora — a market place in ancient Athens, which worked as a multiformat space and played a key role in social, political and economic life of that society. Still, anyone could have come there without any particular reason.
In the course of time, the role of the public spaces was constantly redefined. Since 1960s the majority of historians and architectural theorists has been pointing out that human strives for personal (or more like egoistic) comfort and benefits deprive any city of its main economic potential and even more importantly of its reason for existence. One of the main goal of a city is to stimulate constructive dialogue between people.
Nowadays the majority of public spaces are indoors, rather than outdoors. Both our culture and our climate has contributed to it. Trouble is that contemporary public spaces are largely dependent on business sector. City dwellers spend a lot of their time at HoReCa places and shopping malls. And those are the places, where you can witness the following situation.
Let’s imagine that just another NoName shopping mall installs some comfortable fancy benches. Remarkably, small shops used to be called “lavka” which means both “a small store” and “a bench” in Russian. And naturally, people or even whole groups of people start to sit on those newly installed benches. They spend their time, rest and interact in there.
Meanwhile, store owners are starting to get irritated by those random gatherings. Because the majority of those people are not their customers while they won’t come into their stores and make a purchase. Instead, they make noise and leave a mess. From the point of view of retailers, they bother their customers and even scare away the potential ones.
So under the pressure of tenants, the mall administration removes those benches. People, who already got used to the comfort, start to sit on the floor. “Sitting on the floor is forbidden!!!” signs appear here and there in the mall. The finishing touch would be a pay toilet. Eventually, the mall is no longer a public space… Human empathy and public comfort were forced out by some prosaic consumerism.
But our article is not about negative aspects. It is about quite the opposite! We gathered an inspiring collection of the best examples from public spaces! It shows how love for the city and respect for themselves and others help foreign designers, furniture makers and equipment manufacturers change public spaces by making them friendly and comfortable for everyone! And their main tool is, of course, equipment for public spaces.
At the campus of the University of Oregon Spacesaver created a mobile sports gear storage system, which protects expensive equipment, optimizes workflow and keeps team’s pride and spirits up:
Custom-designed Spacesaver storage cases create an alien atmosphere and provide a unique experience for those, who comes to see the world largest meteorite collection at the University:
The same company helped Salve Regina University Library save a lot of space for visitors using their mobile shelves:
And here is a whole selection of designer furniture for public spaces from Swiss company Vitra!
For the University of Konstanz Library:
For the Blaibach Concert Hall in Germany:
For an office in Stuttgart, Germany:
For a workspace in London:
For the workspace at the Technical University of Berlin:
For the Whales of Iceland, which is both a modern museum and an interactive education center in Reykjavík full of life-size models of 23 whales and fish species:
And here is an interior for a canteen at the museum shop of the City of Culture of Galicia with equipment designed by Estudio Nômada professionals:
Interior design of cafe-space in Bluberi yoghurt shop in Virginia, USA created by Tokyo-based architect Emmanuelle Moureaux (native of France):
Resting area at the La Maquinista mall in Barcelona:
Guest space in France at the Fazer chocolate factory:
Bridge-like pavilion design near the Los Molinos lake in Cordoba Province, Argentina from Alarciaferrer studio architects. A perfect spot for meetings and relaxation!
The Amsterdam Public Library also known as OBA. Design by Jo Coenen:
A real-life fragrant garden in the middle of boutiques at the Bal Harbor Shops in Florida, USA:
Resting area at the 10 Corso Como retail complex in Shanghai, China:
Some designer furniture and equipment for public spaces from Danish Planova’s Public Spaces division, formerly known as Bruno Hansen:
A new library in Vennesla, Norway:
The Gogol Library, Saint-Petersburg:
Harmony benches in CHAISE LONGUE created by Matous Holy for Bellitalia:
Satellite bench created by Eduard Herrmann for MMCITE:
CROSSED bench created by Stéphane Chapelet for Lab23:
Molecular free-shape stone benches designed by Raffaele Lazzari for Metalco:
Loop bench created by Christophe Pillet for Serralunga:
This was our small trip into a beautiful world of foreign designer equipment for public spaces. We hope you enjoyed it!
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