City of Sydney Public Domain Furniture

  • 2016

  • Architectural
    Place Design

Designed By:

  • Tzannes
  • Australian Built Urban Designs

Commissioned By:

City of Sydney Council

Designed In:


Tzannes was commissioned by the City of Sydney Council to design a sophisticated, elegant new range of public domain furniture reflecting the city’s design focus, outdoor heritage and culture.
Previously there was mix of outdated furniture across the city making ongoing servicing and maintenance inefficient. The range of new elements will be employed across the cities varied landscapes from the central business district, new urban developments, the new light rail upgrade to parks and surround suburbs. Our work co-exits, with and will ultimately replace, the existing street furniture range and fits comfortably with it, as well as adding a new dimension that is distinctive to Sydney.

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  • Our aim was to create a distinctive family of elements expressing Sydney's unique cultural and urban context. We drew inspiration from city's maritime and industrial heritage - the riveted steel plates and columns of the Harbour Bridge, its maritime history and robust steel and wooden wharf structures - and the elegant, timeless quality of buildings, including the Sydney Opera House. The new furniture range references the forms of industrial folded and fashioned metal plate, elemental pared back timber and the strong contrast between light and shade that is a feature of the Sydney context.

  • We believe public domain furniture is part of a city's cultural identity. While it might seem small at the scale of a city, a system of coordinated furniture elements can reflect and form part of the city's character, serving to enrich and connect its various parts together, conveying a sense of place. We strove to meet five conceptual goals in our designs: elegance, simplicity, clarity, integrity and legibility of form and function.

  • Simple planar forms were developed to express and augment the juxtaposition of light and shade that is a defining characteristic of Sydney's environment. Curved and formed metal plate allows the simplicity of the structure to define the profiles allowing a gentle curving aesthetic to form the basis of the design for each of the elements. From an understanding of the essential functional purpose of each element, we developed a pared down approach to materials, finishes and colour; with an honesty and legibility in approach to detailing. All elements within the suite were designed to meet Australian Accessibility Standards.

  • The range developed includes seating, garbage bins capsules, bollards, a water bubbler and tree grate with guard. While the function of each of the products is quite different, we wanted to create a 'family of elements' that visually look to be part of suite with consistent detailing, materials, finishes and manufacturing processes. We created two materials palettes- a stainless steel palette for the city centre and bronze for the surrounding urban 'villages'. Bronzed aluminium, stainless steel and FSC certified Australian timbers were selected to complement the cities texture of sandstone and steel, allowing a richness to develop from the play of light on simple curved edges.

    The bollard was the genesis of form for the street furniture elements. In its simplest form, it is a folded plate loop, allowing transparency and a lightness of touch. The solid option developed takes the form of the negative space within the folded plate, is elliptical in base plan and allows the addition of an LED luminaire in the side of the bollard to be used as a directional tool or lighting a pedestrian path within the public domain. There was also a requirement for a removable version of the bollard, an innovative solution was developed by which the bollard can be removed using a security key and the floor base plate capped flush without any potential trip hazards protruding from the ground plane.

    The garbage bin enclosure is designed to house a standard wheeled 'sulo' bin eliminating any lifting by the operators, integrating vermin protection and sized to suit the city's waste requirement. Common to all the elements within the suite, the bin design was developed to provide for ease of cleaning. Elements of the housing can also be removed (leaving just the stainless steel framing) in order to adapt to the potential security needs for transparent and visible rubbish collection. The outer frame is a rolled 316 stainless steel plate, the trash deflector is cast 316 grade stainless steel and the doors are powdercoated cast aluminium.

    The cast 316 grade stainless steel tree grate is an innovative three stage removable system developed with the city councils arborist which allows the rings to be removed as the tree grows. The segmented components rings are identical for simplicity and ease of maintenance and replacement. The tree guard that sits within the grate is developed from the folded plate concept. The guard is assembled from 3 identical components joined together using a simple security key device. The three part tapering structure is inherently stable and designed to be self-supporting and can be constructed by a single person. The components are designed to be stackable to allow for efficient transportation and storage.