Thinking about retrofitting street furniture?

Thinking about retrofitting street furniture?

Retrofitting is the concept of installing or adapting new parts, pieces, or equipment to something that was previously manufactured or constructed. It serves as a fantastic method of updating and breathing life into the old and crafting something better than new. Retrofitting is applicable not just to tools, electronics, or cars but to places as well. Applying street furniture to a prebuilt landscape, without modifying the area, is also a form of retrofitting.  

Why is retrofitting street furniture a valuable approach?  

Heritage and aesthetics  

Most towns and cities have sections of them that are distinct and developed in unison over a period of years. It may be that the area dates back 20 years, 100 years or more. One thing is for certain and that is that the aesthetics in that place are specific to the time in which it was built. It may be the case that due to the heritage of a site, it’s not possible to do any groundwork or alter the landscape in any way, in which case being able to retrofit street furniture is vital and ultimately the only solution. Even if it is the case that it is possible and sanctioned, should it be the case? Or would the area be better suited to maintaining the character of its age? After all, no one travels to Rome for its modern buildings or the contemporary architecture recently erected.  

Creativity abounds  

Working within a defined space is a fantastic way to invoke the most creative of spirits. It allows for the challenging of what’s possible while being seemingly, rigidly constrained. Having these strict impositions may turn a predictable space into something memorable, even remarkable. There is a plethora of options in the world of street furniture that make anything possible given the power of will. We can start to look vertically when there’s not enough floor space, weave in and out of existing trees and features, and incorporate ponds, streams, or anything else presented by the landscape. Starting from a partially painted canvas gives us direction and license to innovate.  

Environmentally and budget-friendly 

The most environmentally friendly thing we can do when it comes to the landscape is nothing. When we need to do something, retrofitting is the next best thing. The carbon cost incurred in digging up and resurfacing an area can be astronomical depending on the size of the area, not to mention the financial outlay. The sheer amount of bodies, vans, equipment, and materials needed on-site comes at a high cost in terms of money and to the environment. If a pre-existing surface is fit for purpose, it can be advantageous to leave it well enough alone. The same goes for any features, natural or otherwise that are already in place. Again, there are so many options available to designers and architects alike, that there is almost always a way of building on the old to provide something transformative.  

How is retrofitting street furniture possible? 

There are three main ways of sourcing street furniture for retrofit: 

  1. Go out with a plan and key dimensions in mind to source the correct size of furniture 
  1. Commission bespoke furniture to fit the space 
  1. Utilise modular furniture 

Each of these three methods of sourcing street furniture has their own pros and cons: 

Sourcing off-the-shelf furniture 


  • Can be sourced to any budget 
  • Steady availability 
  • Potentially short lead times 
  • Easy to replace due to ready supply 


  • Sourcing from multiple manufacturers or suppliers for a package 
  • Compromising on design, colour, or materials 
  • Lengthy sourcing period 

Bespoke street furniture 


  • Exacting design and finish 
  • Perfect fit into the established plan 
  • Completely unique 


  • Long lead times 
  • Expensive 
  • Hard/expensive to replace and repair 

Modular street furniture 


  • Completely customisable 
  • Perfect fit into the established plan 
  • Can be sourced to any budget 
  • Configurable into any shape 
  • Shorter lead times 
  • Easy and quick to install 
  • Easily repaired or replaced 


  • May generally be more expensive than standard off-the-shelf street furniture 
  • Not as unique as bespoke 

All three methods are valuable ways of sourcing street furniture for retrofitting with their own benefits and drawbacks. Our preference is modular furniture as it provides all the customisation benefits of a bespoke piece, with all the affordability and the shorter production timelines of an off-the-shelf solution. Read our article on retrofitting a space with modular furniture to learn more. 

One of the key things to keep in mind when looking to retrofit street furniture is that the pieces chosen are surface-mountable so that no major groundwork needs to take place. They can then simply be bolted in place to prevent vandalism or their removal from the site. In addition, it’s important to consider the surface strength to ensure that the correct fixings can be applied without damage. 

If you’d like to talk to us about what your options are when retrofitting street furniture give us a call on 01686 689 198 or email us at