Proving the persuasive power of street furniture in public space activation, an underutilised courtyard in Poznań, Poland was given purpose and function through the integration of a series of moveable “living lounges”.

Having undergone many incarnations throughout its long history, from a community gathering space to an uninspired parking lot, the latest incarnation has brought this courtyard back to community gathering space, with even greater functionality. A series of landscaped benches has transformed the area into a garden oasis, street cafe, community public square and formal performance space.

A growing trend in the creation of public spaces worldwide is the notion of multi-use functionality. Given the diverse cultural and social needs of many an urban population, public spaces are now required to provide a range of amenities and programs to meet a plethora of community requirements. Street furniture is one way in which to achieve effective placemaking.

Placemaking is the “multi-faceted approach to the creation and management of public spaces that capitalises on community assets to intentionally develop spaces to promote social interaction and individual wellbeing”. Good placemaking encourages social interaction on a community level. The Poznań project achieves this through the integration of flexible and multifunctional street furniture, activating the space with an intimacy and cosiness contrary to its urban interior.

Designed and implemented by Atelier Starzak Strebicki, a Poland-based architecture and design firm, the public realm furniture injects greenspace elements into a moveable framework to create “living lounges” that can be rearranged to create formal or informal gathering spaces, or into an amphitheatrical arrangement to form performance and event areas.

Originally containing no elements that encouraged the public to gather and engage, the Old Town square was populated with Starzak Strebicki’s flowerbed seating, originally as a big round bench around a central flower bed. The additions resulted in increased use by those encountering the space. No longer was the square just a place to pass through but rather it had become a place to linger and relax. With places to sit, a green outlook and a series of activities in which to partake, traffic to the area has greatly increased and the space is now a genuine community asset.

Atelier Starzak Strebicki’s installation effectively demonstrates the growing desire of cities to incorporate more greenspaces into urban centres, without the sometimes problematic need for large-scale infrastructure works.

Poznań, Poland
Client City of Poznań
Designer/Architect Atelier Starzak Strebicki
Photography Mateusz Bieniaszczyk and Atelier Starzak Strebicki