Street Furniture for the City of Rotterdam
A project from Joanna’s portfolio at npk design, this series of benches was designed within the context of a large umbrella project called ‘Rotterdamse Stijl’, aimed at establishing a city-wide aesthetic for public design for the municipality of Rotterdam.
This project entailed firstly formulating a grand creative vision for the design of Rotterdam’s public objects for the coming decades. Secondly it entailed designing numerous objects to support this vision. Categories of objects covered Street Furniture, such as benches, Masts, Fencing and Tree Grids. Joanna helped formulate the vision and played an important role in creating the concepts and developing the designs. The goal to create a cohesive and recognizable design language for all of these products that can serve as a platform for planners, developers and designers into the future.
Here shown is the series of benches with an underlying story about creating visual harmony without monotony. To achieve this, a family of benches was designed, with a similar over-aesthetic, that allows for variations based on different ways of sitting for different parts of the city. In the center, for example, a more formal way of sitting, in residential areas, more playful and dynamic and at the riverbank more relaxed.
The two-seater bench was designed to relax in along the banks of the Maas River, which flows through the city. Its design is inspired by the Adirondack chair; an outdoor chair, popular in Canada and the US, characterized by it’s low seat, laid-back posture and horizontal arm-rests.
The small bollard design is inspired by a lighthouse and Rotterdam’s port status. It represents the smallest member of the Mast Program. The characteristic tapered base features throughout the program.
The underlying design principle of the benches follows a main pillar of the grand vision; Rotterdam’s ‘Long Lines & Wide Vistas’ (Rotterdamse Stijl). To this end the choice was made to maintain continuous, horizontal lines in the all the seating versions. A system was created consisting of four wooden plank-widths, with which a number of ergonomic seating profiles could be composed and various bench-styles built. For example, the city-center and two-seater benches employ all four plank-widths, to create the most refined sitting surface and grandest visual statement. The city-wide bench and leaning support use only two widths, while the block uses three. In this way creating some variety in the unity.
The continuous ‘wooden lines’ are intersected by the iron supports and armrests, as if woven together, creating a solid yet elegant connection. The supports have a particular relationship with the ground; their minimal, compact footprint facilitates cleaning and maintenance and their tapered shape give stability. Their cantilever design and angled posture are reminiscent of Rotterdam’s bridges, and give a dynamic, modern feeling. The benches are generously proportioned and very solid. All of these aspects reflect Rotterdam’s forward-thinking, no-nonsense character.