As designers, we’re in a position to create solutions that contribute to healthier and more sustainable green public spaces. Streetlife’s approach, which includes the TWIN concept, combines aesthetics and sustainability in fair and future-proof products
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Public spaces generate more value when activities can take place and people can stay there and recreate. The right placement and choice of furniture and attributes are key for success. As designers, we are in a position to create solutions that also contribute to healthier and more sustainable green public spaces.
There are several upcoming trends in the world of street furniture. When it comes to materials, wooden elements are an all-time favorite. Wood has a natural look. The colour is warm. It’s environment friendly, and when the right wood type is chosen, it grows back – e.g. Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) forests. No extra treatments are needed to create the material, so no extra CO2 is produced.
Of all kinds of wood, one can opt for hardwood. Although this is not locally sourced, the quality of the wood outperforms local wood’s features. Hardwood has a very dense structure, minimising the chance of torsion or cracks. Also due to the density, hardwood is used untreated, so is very low-maintenance; needing only a little sanding over time to let the material look like new.
On the other end of the spectrum, we have plastic. There have been some trials (and errors) with recycled plastics in street furniture in the last two decades. In the beginning, the recycling itself was a great achievement; to be able to store used plastic in a functional way, such as beams, was a solution to our ever-growing pile of plastic waste. Lately, designers researching waste materials – whether in clothes, shoes, home furniture or other fields – have begun working with it, improving the colours, textures, strength and application.
Streetlife, a designer and producer of street furniture and small bridges, aims to be an inspiration for circular products in public spaces, while preserving the products’ distinctive design and functionality. Achievements are made with three types of reused plastic, with their own colours, textures, and applications. Thanks to the development in the field of research, they successfully link these material features to a specific product family, where the material does justice to the product. These recyclates are collected in a TWIN-concept: a TWIN material for every wooden beam size in the Streetlife Collection.
The naming of the recyclates are linked to their appearance.
All Black is made from industrial and household waste plastic. This includes plastic bags, building and agricultural plastics, bottles, caps, and beer crates. The material is essentially composed of two thermoplastics: 50% polyethylene (PE) and 50% polypropylene (PP). All Black has a matt appearance and a rough texture and is black throughout due to the use of a natural dye (carbon). The colour is retained by UV stabilisers.
Lava Grey is made entirely from recycled household plastic waste, such as packaging, cups, bags, and trays. It consists of around 75% recycled PE and 25% recycled PP. This new anthracite grey substance has a fairly rough texture. In places, the surface reveals how the material flowed into the mould during the casting process, like a lava stream. Specles of coloured plastic are visible here and there in the grey mass, highlighting the origin of the recycled material.
Cloudy Grey is a recyclate of materials sourced from both plastic and textile waste. It consists of 50% recycled low-density polyethylene (LDPE) plastic combined with 50% recycled textile fibres from used clothes. This durable, grey material with blue tones has a matt appearance and an uneven texture. Fibres of coloured clothing add to the vibrant marbled surface, affording Cloudy Grey a unique character.
Innovation and creativity are the cornerstones of progress. At a time when we need to drastically reduce our impact on the environment, sustainability must be a guiding and integral part of the creation process. Streetlife’s approach aims to combining aesthetics and sustainability in fair and future-proof products, using both FSC-certified wood and recycled plastics.