Street furniture – the key to bringing people back together safely in 2021
As 2020 ends with the roll out of a Covid-19 vaccine in the UK, the focus is now on how and when some form of normality will return to everyday life – from shopping and working, to entertaining and recreation.
Architects and urban planners have had to adapt their tactics to future proof new and existing architectural schemes, realising there will be a long-term need for social distancing measures. And street furniture is playing an increasing part in that.
From new residential and commercial developments to existing high streets and retail outlets, there is a need to integrate pedestrian control and social distancing.
“The architectural landscape is changing as a result of the coronavirus pandemic,” said Robert Hawgood, Managing Director of Landmark Street Furniture, one of the UK’s leading designers and installers of street furniture.
“The built environment in our streets, offices and even residential complexes have already changed, with the temporary social distancing measures put in place.
“In recent months we have seen a dramatic increase in enquiries and orders for street furniture as part of permanent solutions within these places.
Retrofitting street furniture into the built environment
“A lot of this work has been in identifying ways of retrofitting street furniture systems. Seating and planters are two key product ranges in demand. They can be used to control pedestrian and vehicular movement.
“For example, many local councils have either closed town centre streets or limited them to one way or restricted access. Introducing planters provide an aesthetically pleasing and yet practical way to do this.
The UK and devolved governments, along with local councils, are expected to place an emphasis and funding of such new schemes to support the economy, transportation and social life.
The government’s Covid-19 guidelines for ‘safer public places – urban centres and green spaces’ is already a key part of the management of public areas.
An example of how this work is Park Place Plaza. Although completed before the pandemic, the plaza is a good example of how street furniture has been integrated into a mixed retail and residential development.
Creating natural social distancing in the street
“The mix of planters and seating provides an instant visual element to control movement naturally. It has created wide-open avenues through the plaza. People can see a clear route. The direction isn’t enforced, but it’s obvious to a pedestrian where they should go while being clearly distanced from others moving in the opposite or same direction,” added Mr Hawgood.
Landmark Street Furniture included hardwearing steel and hardwood coupled with anti-skate studs to ensure damage is kept to a minimum.
“The seating provides places of outdoor sanctuary for resting or meeting friends and colleagues safely. These are long benches and seats, providing plenty of space for distancing. Their materials also mean they are durable and long-lasting.”
Secure cycle storage in public and private locations
Cycle stands are also incorporated, allowing bikes to be locked securely while cyclists work at or visit local businesses.
However, in similar environments, more secure bicycle storage systems can be introduced.
The result is a combination of peaceful rest areas for busy shoppers in a tranquil environment amidst an inner-city area.
Key products being introduced to town centres include:
- Secure cycle storage
- Landscape structures and shelters
Anti-skateboarding studs are also being introduced to protect architecture and deter skateboarders in town centres, making it safer for pedestrians.
“The plaza is one example of how a mixed-use site can introduce safe measures for social distancing within an architecturally and aesthetically pleasing environment,” said Mr Hawgood.
“As we move into 2021, we anticipate increasing demand for such street furniture systems not only from architects, property developers and local councils, but demanded by shoppers, workers and residents.
“It’s now a case of future-proofing our built environment. Integration of such systems into new and existing developments as a permanent solution is far more cost-effective and safer for all.”
Landmark Street Furniture is based near Newtown, Powys and covers the whole of the UK. More details can be found at www.landmarkstreetfurniture.com. Or telephone 01686 689 198 or email email@example.com.