Street furniture

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Street furniture in Warminster, England
Street furniture can reflect local issues, as here at Lyme Regis, where the ammonite-design streetlamps reflect the town's location on the Jurassic Coast, a World Heritage site.
The signage systems of Metz, France, were created by Swiss designer Ruedi Baur.

Street furniture is a collective term (used in the United Kingdom[1] and Canada[2][3]) for objects and pieces of equipment installed on streets and roads for various purposes. It includes benches, traffic barriers, bollards, post boxes, phone boxes, streetlamps, traffic lights, traffic signs, bus stops, tram stops, taxi stands, public lavatories, fountains, watering troughs, memorials, public sculptures, and waste receptacles. An important consideration in the design of street furniture is how it affects road safety.

General descriptions[edit]

Street name signs identify streets for the benefit of visitors, especially postal workers and the emergency services. They may also indicate the district in which the street lies.

A bench is essentially a chair made for more than one person, usually found in central parts of settlements (such as plazas and parks). They are often provided by the local councils or contributors to serve as a place to rest and admire the view. Armrests in between are sometimes provided to discourage lying down and/or unwanted closeness.

Bollards are posts, short poles, or pillars with the purpose of preventing the movement of vehicles onto sidewalks or grass.

Post boxes, also known as mail boxes, are found throughout the world, and have a variety of form.

Phone boxes or telephone booths are prominent in most cities, and while ranging drastically in the amount of cover they offer users, e.g. many only cover the phone itself while others are full booths, are instantly recognisable. The widespread use of mobile phones has resulted in a decrease in their numbers.

Streetlamps are designed to illuminate the surrounding area at night, serving not only as a deterrent to criminals but more importantly to allow people to see where they're going. The colour of streetlamps' bulbs differ, but generally are white or yellow.

Traffic lights (or traffic signals) usually include three colours: green to represent "go", amber to inform drivers that the colour will alternate shortly, and red to tell drivers to stop. They are generally mounted on poles or gantries or hung from wires.

Traffic signs warn drivers of upcoming road conditions such as a "blind curve", speed limits, etc. Direction signs tell the reader the way to a location, although the sign's information can be represented in a variety of ways from that of a diagram to written instructions. Direction signs are usually mounted on poles. Recently, illumination has started to be added in order to aid nighttime users.

Public lavatories allow pedestrians the opportunity to use restroom facilities, either for free or for a fee.

Fire hydrant in Prague

Fire hydrants : fire service hook ups have a regional flare, or in the UK, buried in the street.

Poster Pole or Advertising column : Especially in Europe, some cities like Berlin or Paris have dedicated poster towers.

Waste container, Litter Bin.

Emergency telephone box.

Street curbstones.

Paving stones, brick rosettes or granite cobbles, sometimes even wood.

Anti sit-lie dispositives : prevent people (i.e. homeless) to sit or lie.[4]

Street furniture can be positioned to control overspill parking in addition to its primary purpose; for example a bench and a number of bollards may be used to block access to a sidewalk or verges for vehicles.[5]

Defunct village pump spouts and village lock-ups, both common in the United Kingdom, could also be considered street furniture.

Furthermore, several outdoor vending machines, such as newspaper vending machines, could also be considered street furniture.

Local significance[edit]

K2 and K6 (left) Red telephone boxes stand next to each other on St John's Wood High Street, London, England.

Street furniture itself has become as much a part of many nations' identities as dialects and national events, so much so that one can usually recognise the location by their design; famous examples of this include:

Historical street furniture[edit]

The Tiergarten park in Berlin has a collection of antique streetlamps from around the world, both gas and electric.

Since most items of street furniture are of a utilitarian nature, authorities generally keep them up-to-date and replace them regularly (usually to conform to regulations, safety codes, etc.). Because of this, old, outdated, obsolete, or even non-functional street furniture can be rare sights and hold a special fascination and inspire nostalgia for many people.

Outdoor advertising and street furniture[edit]

  • Posters are a part of out-of-home media (also referred to as OOH). The presentation of backlit posters is done in display boxes or street furniture components like mega-displays or billboards. To install these street furniture components on public ground, city councils have to agree. To get these permissions (Europe, Asia and part of the US) services and fees are offered to the cities by the outdoor advertisers.
  • In Europe there is a heavy competition for public spots to do advertising in different poster formats since these spots generate high contact figures – means many people can possibly remember a presented advertising message on a major road or square.
  • The presentation of this advertising has to fit in the overall urban planning rules of cities and their architecture. These requirements lead to interesting design approaches for poster presentation in different formats.
  • Street furniture families were designed to fit these needs. Over the years they were completed with additional components like restrooms and automatic toilet facilities and kiosks to name a few.
  • To finance this infrastructure long term contracts (10 to 15 years) are signed between cities and outdoor advertising companies.
  • Cities are often put in a situation to decide on new concepts when they are not familiar with the issues, since new contracts occur only very seldom. This knowledge gap is closed by a special advisor—the street furniture report.
  • This advisor gives cities some independent ideas on how to act in this surrounding (rather than reacting) since public grounds can not be enlarged.


Telecommunications pole with an LCD display for advertising, weather forecasts, traffic information

Some concealed cell sites disguise the tower with a structure that can fit into street furniture.

Large displays in central streets can provide information, advertise events or products, or warn citizens about potential problems. Interactive displays can show information on key places and monuments and allow parking payments. They can serve as a cell site with low visual impact.

Some cell sites have a structure that make it look pleasant. In this case it is not concealed but highlighted, becoming a part of the street furniture that can be admired by citizens. Such a cell tower decorated with glass can be found in Treviso, Italy. It is the result of the cooperation between architects and designers creating an architecturally blended cell site.

The use of power from renewable sources may be a design criterion.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Street furniture". Cambridge Dictionaries Online. Cambridge University Press. Retrieved 10 January 2012. 
  2. ^ Toronto street furniture: garbage in, garbage out, Globe and Mail, 2009
  3. ^ Do people actually like Astral's street furniture program?, BlogTo, 2013
  4. ^ Anti homeless dispositives.
  5. ^ "Pavement parking". Department for Transport. Retrieved 2009-07-25.