Public Infrastructure

Public Seat or Trash Container?

Clearly this object in public space is ambiguous. Given its recognisable form, the seat is mistaken for a trash bin, appearing similar to the underground waste containers in Rdam (image below).

Yet, it was designed with a very different objective. These seats, placed at strategic points in public space, are part of the campaign ‘Rotterdam Circulair’ and aimed to engage users with the city’s ambition for a circular economy by 2030. They are made using the tops of old waste containers, ‘upcycled’ public infrastructure.

So far so good, but it seems ironic that the opposite of the intended effect is achieved; people dumping litter in such a way that pollutes public space and limits the potential for recyling. Moreso, the simplistic thought that people might want to sit on an object associated with a pile of garbage – underground trash containers can store up to 5 m3 of household refuse – is baffling.

Ambiguity in public space requires a delicate balance, even more so when the intention is humour. To be continued.