Aria Smart Bench

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  • 2019

  • Product
    Furniture and Lighting

Designed By:

  • Danny Cheung
  • Francis McArdle
  • Dorte Bell
  • Ian Johnson
  • Mark Armstrong

Commissioned By:

Street Furniture Australia

Designed In:

Australia

The Aria Smart Bench is the first of its type in the Australian landscape. It is a digitally-connected seat that enables users to recharge and connect outdoors. It allows new configurations to work and meet in comfort. This all-new system of digitally-enabled furniture brings new experiences to the public domain.


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  • CHALLENGE
  • SOLUTION
  • IMPACT
  • MORE
  • The Aria system is a dream come true for landscape architects, who struggle to choose appropriate designs from existing catalogues. They invariably try to design structures themselves, which often lack engineering integrity and appropriate ergonomics. The brief asks for a systems approach to street furniture that delivers flexibility and enjoyment. Additionally, as governments understand that digital connectivity in the public domain is inevitable and seek smart outdoor solutions to create enjoyment, a charging solution was included in the brief. The design team were challenged to create a sophisticated electronics solution that is reliable, waterproof and indestructible.

  • The Aria smart bench has made a significant contribution to the Smart Cities movement and offers new affordances to the community. The project demanded a systems thinking approach to develop components that combine to create unlimited seating configurations and flexibility. The designers recognised an unmet need around the use of devices in public spaces and the opportunity to support digital activities in the public domain. Could wireless charging, lighting and WiFi be integrated into new furniture solutions? Could the system also support people-counters and environmental sensors to provide analytics for asset management?

  • The Australian Institute of Landscape Architects, Internet of Things Alliance Australia and Smart Cities Council ANZ built the ‘street of the future’ at Circular Quay during the 2017 International Festival of Landscape Architecture. The Aria smart bench was a central feature of the event, along with driverless cars and smart bins, and has had significant uptake. The system provides USB, mains voltage (240v) and wireless phone charging, so you can top up whenever you need. The ACT Government recently specified the system for its Woden Town Square upgrade, a project influenced by the Smart Cities movement.

  • The Aria smart bench is designed with future-proofing in mind, evolving as the smart cities revolution unfolds and community needs change. The system features modular GPO and USB ports, easily switched as technology progresses. A generous clamshell housing offers space for WiFi modems, sensors and additional hardware. The system provides for the integration of people-counters and environmental sensors, to provide data analytics to asset managers. Georges River Council and the University of New South Wales are currently using it as part of a research project supported by the Australian government’s Smart Cities and Suburbs program. The side table design allows people to relax in comfort sitting next to their phone while charging, instead of crouching or standing beside a wall-mounted power outlet, often seen in airports. It offers equal opportunity to access power and connectivity in public spaces. Aria system modules include 1, 2 and 3-seater benches and seats, with 45, 90 and 180 degree connectors. This empowers designers to create site-specific furniture settings that support activities such as work, socialising, dining and play. The Aria system can be specified traditionally or with an augmented reality app, Build Aria, to visualise settings in the office or on site.