ChillOUT Tree

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  • 2022

  • Product

Designed By:

  • Francis McArdle, Principal Industrial Designer
  • Mark Armstrong, Design Director
  • Georges River Council
  • UNSW and University of Sydney
  • CM+ Architecture and Urban Design

Commissioned By:

Street Furniture Australia

Georges River Council

University of New South Wales

The University of Sydney

Designed In:

Australia

ChillOUT Tree is a smart, modular shade structure that activates outdoor community hubs as safe and accessible ‘third places’. It aims to increase community connectivity, provide respite zones that are flexible spaces for work and play, and reduce urban heat. The first of its kind in the Australian landscape.


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  • CHALLENGE
  • SOLUTION
  • IMPACT
  • MORE
  • ChillOUT Tree is a landscape architect’s solution to providing shade in high-traffic urban locations where trees are not viable. The minimal footprint expands the sites where shade can be installed. ChillOUT can be configured as a singular structure or mass installation, featuring a systems approach to providing lighting, device charging and IOT power monitoring - with modular seating and tables. The design supports accessible, safe, healthy spaces with flexible use for work, dining and rest. The product evolves and commercialises a prototype developed with Georges River Council, the University of Sydney and University of New South Wales.

  • ChillOUT Tree has made a significant contribution to the place activation movement in Australia and offers new affordances to the community. The project demanded a systems-thinking approach to develop components that combine to offer extended amenity including different types of shade, varying heights, colourful and adaptable LED lighting and device charging, all easily serviceable and upgradeable, along with modular furniture that can be configured seamlessly with the Tree design. The designers recognised unmet needs in transforming a simple shade structure into an amenity-rich community hub that brings new experiences to the public domain - all integrated within one product offering.

  • ChillOUT Tree inspires positive community outcomes around urban heat and shade, economic and social opportunities, physical and mental health. It extends activities that can safely and comfortably be enjoyed outdoors - with flexibility for work, rest and recreation. The customisable design complements a range of environments and is engineered to endure in the public realm, meeting safety standards, adhering to DDA requirements and providing equitable amenity and access. Proof of impact research by UNSW and University of Sydney on prototype ChillOUT Hubs found that 97.4% thought the hub they used enhanced the local area.

  • ChillOUT Tree is a commercialisation and further development of award-winning prototype smart, open air ‘ChillOUT Hubs’, designed and tested by Georges River Council, UNSW, University of Sydney and Street Furniture Australia for the federal Smart Cities and Suburbs program. The hubs were installed in late 2019, and continue to be maintained, studied and monitored. The project was awarded a national Planning Institute of Australia Award for Best Planning Ideas - Small Project in 2021. The collaborative team was also highly commended by the Committee for Sydney in the 2019 Smart City Awards for Cross Sectoral Collaboration. ChillOUT Tree was born out of a rich collaborative partnership - including research by the universities to measure impact and provide evidence-based direction on how to improve the product in its commercial form. Street Furniture Australia’s industrial designers harvested insights now seen in the commercial ChillOUT Tree. Key features include: - Modular square or circular roofs. - Dappled and hard shade. - Compact footprint to reduce street clutter. - Three standard heights, ability to tailor. - Modular furniture blends seamlessly. - Device charging. - LED lighting. - Smart power monitoring. - Concealed electronics, easily maintained and upgradeable. - Combats macro issues including urban heat, post-pandemic outdoor dining, work and classrooms, community physical and mental health.