Stylish, durable street furniture solutions for coastal environments
The UK’s long and varied coastline attracts millions of visitors every year, with many of the towns and villages along it also being amongst the most popular property hotspots given the strong attraction of living by the sea.
To ensure everyone can make the most of their time by the coast, it is important that all aspects of the public realm, in particular promenades, are designed and equipped to a high standard. And with many local authorities also needing to develop more robust defences to protect communities against the effects of climate change, the importance of good design in public spaces along the coast has never been greater.
Ever since Victorian times, our promenades, parks and gardens have been equipped with seating, litter bins, lighting, planters and other types of street furniture. Today, whilst their design purpose is just as relevant, the progress that has been made in terms of materials and styles ensures landscape designers and architects can create their own lasting statement for the 21st century.
Design for the harshest environmental conditions
Central to the decision-making process for any street furniture in a coastal location is durability and how well it deals with exposure to a wide range of environmental conditions.
The old adage of ‘you buy cheap, you buy twice’ applies 100% when it comes to the procurement of street furniture in coastal locations. The harsh saline atmosphere resulting from the salty sea water has an aggressive corrosive effect on certain metals, which is why the ideal specification for metal elements in street furniture must be stainless steel 316, galvanised steel or powder-coated aluminium.
But it is not just metals that require careful consideration. There are a number of other materials that are capable of withstanding the elements better than others, such as granite, concrete, weighted plastic and correctly treated and maintained timber. In addition to resisting the effects of the environment, these materials will also offer durability in use and to protect against damage and vandalism.
This is why the Artform Urban range of granite and concrete products is ideally suited to coastal projects. Within this range are seating, benches, planters litter bins and bollards, all offering superior durability with elegant design characteristics.
One final consideration is the effects of long-term exposure to sunlight. Choose street furniture with a light finish to avoid fading and make sure materials used for surfaces do not reflect light excessively or become unusable due to the sun heating them. This is why stainless steel seating must be avoided!
Optimising the user experience
Street furniture has evolved over many decades in line with changing lifestyles, which means the range of options available today can accommodate the needs of people spending time on our coastlines extremely well. Water bottle refill stations and dedicated recycling bins, for example, can be integrated into the promenade design alongside more established elements such as shelters, cycle parking and lighting, in a wide variety of contemporary styles from Artform Urban.
These street furniture elements are designed to be coordinated with seating and benches, which is of course central to any public space along the coastline. Here, Artform Urban’s range is diverse and inspirational, giving designers the opportunity to enhance natural assets and views with statement design.
Seating within the Artform Urban range utilises highly durable materials including stainless steel and granite to ensure style ambitions are not compromised by poor long term performance. It is also an inclusive range, offering seating solutions which accommodate the needs of people of all ages and those using wheelchairs or mobility scooters.
How Artform Urban solutions have been used in coastal projects
Artform Urban street furniture has been specified for numerous coastal public realm projects over the past 9 years, but two recent commissions, in particular, demonstrate just how versatile the range is and how the originality of the designs can deliver stunning aesthetics.
In 2020, Artform Urban manufactured and supplied a significant number of robust and contemporary Diamante seating units for Fylde Promenade. These were incorporated into a project to regenerate the promenade and coastal defence systems running along an 11km stretch of coastline.
The client, Fylde Borough Council, sought to integrate plenty of seating with specific and exacting requirements, which Artform Urban was able to accommodate. The seating specification was developed to withstand drastic changes in weather conditions over the seasons, which meant manufacturing the Diamante Seats using a mixture of high-performance concrete, powder-coated and galvanised steel and exotic hardwood for robustness and durability.
Artform Urban also designed bespoke support legs to incorporate larger support fixings, maximising a secure fix for the seating when subjected to adverse and extreme weather conditions. And to provide the optimum protection against the saline conditions for a maximised lifespan for the seating, Artform Urban’s Triple X coating was applied.
A second stand-out project delivered by Artform Urban was the Colwyn Bay Waterfront Redevelopment in 2017. The major investment in redeveloping the town's seafront involved the creation of a new 2.3 mile promenade, which aims to protect the town and its infrastructure from the effects of the sea.
Artform Urban initially proposed several bench designs for consideration in the first and second phases of the promenade’s improvement works, all of which would be able to withstand the harsh weather conditions and be fit for purpose. Following discussions with the project team, granite emerged as the favoured material of choice, and Artform Urban suggested a mixture of sleek reconstituted granite and simple natural granite benches.
With contemporary styling central to the design brief, Anastasio and Makatite benches were chosen to face out to sea and to partially form planting beds for a variety of local flowers. One of the main reasons why this product was chosen was because of the way the seat profile references the prevailing wind and the context much better than a square or rectangular profile would have done, and the slanting profiles were deemed less ‘blocky’.
The client was so impressed with the solutions provided by Artform Urban in the first phase that a contract to supply seating for phase two of Colwyn Bay Waterfront Redevelopment has recently been awarded.
Find out more at www.artformurban.co.uk