Our approach to street design is to work closely with local people to develop proposals that are tailored to the local context. We routinely trial our street design proposals using temporary mock-ups so that communities can visualise what is proposed and positively influence the design process.
To support this aspect of our work we've been working with product designers and partners to develop flexible solutions that can be used to trial innovative street layouts.
A flexible, modular street kit
The street kit is inspired by the form of a bike chain and is therefore able to bend and shape to suit any space. It's ideally suited to trying out different street arrangements on or off the road, which adapt to local constraints like existing street furniture.
Or the kit can be personalised to meet local preferences. So, for example, this could be planted to provide seasonable colour and encourage biodiversity (and also reduce flood risk by intercepting and attenuating rain water) or alternatively, it could be housing a pull-up library, a space for a coffee table or even a board game.
Community trials and temporary spaces
Our street kit is used to create temporary public spaces, trial proposed build-outs from the kerb at junctions to slow traffic, or to test filtered permeability arrangements, i.e. where vehicles access is restricted for vehicles but allowed for bikes.
For example we are working with Lambeth Council and local communities on a plan for traffic calming measures near Richard Atkins School in Brixton Hill, London, to increase the safety of pupils and people on New Park Road. (More info on the Lambeth Council website).
A robust structure
The street kit is constructed using recyclable plastic (polyethylene) and each link unit is hollow and water-fillable, which means it can be both lightweight to aid transportation and assembly but is very stable when filled. When inter-locked with other units it forms a robust structure for a busy urban setting.
Addressing safety issues
- The units are completed with reflective stickers so they can be seen at night
- To protect against vandalism and potential theft, we have designed a hidden interlocking mechanism
- It should be noted that the kit is not designed as a traffic restraint system.
What next for street kit?
2015 was a pilot year where we tested the kit in projects in Bristol as part of Bristol Green Capital. We plan to make the kit more widely available to local authorities and communities from 2016.