Each day our cities seem to get more cluttered with new types of street furniture and equipment that didn’t exist only a few years ago. These new elements include endless amounts of operational electrical and telecommunication boxes that sprung up as these providers have been privatised and now operate without coordination. Additionally we also see an increase in free magazines dispensers, wi-fi masts, bike hire schemes, advertising and signage …etc that are implemented by different operators. Finally, the first digital advertising screens for city centers are threatening to be creeping-up in a city near you.
This creates a messy cocktail of visual pollution that damages the perception of our cities and we think it is important that cities have an organised and coordinated approach of how to handle the visual implications to our shared public space. The level of clutter should be contained and kept to the required minimum but, as many amenities remain necessary, there is also scope to regroup these into clusters and find new solutions of how they can be brought together or integrated into existing elements.
We have produced some first thoughts on this topic based on a specific urban context but to find a holistic approach requires an in depth consultation between all stakeholders (city officials, road engineers, private companies, urban planners and designers) to work out a strategy that is easy to apply to different urban situations without costing over the odds. In some situations this would result in new designs but the overall aim should be to regroup existing elements or to find inventive solutions that don’t require new structures.