[CHALLENGE] Design & make open source urban furniture for public spaces

Photo from Laimikis

The challenge

How can we design, make and document open source urban furniture using recycled materials that help people connect, create and collaborate in public spaces…in particular parking spaces?


What if you could reinvent the practices and infrastructure that exist in public spaces? What if you could create new practices and infrastructure that enable people to feel like they can connect, create and collaborate with each other in these spaces?

We are a networked collaboration between architects, anthropologists and designers from three organisations, European Alternatives (London), Laimikis (Vilnius) and radarq (Barcelona).

This collaboration was born at the ECF Idea Camp ‘14, bringing together activists & practitioners from across Europe who were reshaping public space. Initially three distinct projects below, we networked together to create Public Space Makers.

Hack (y)our Borders helps discover the social and cultural barriers that people face when using public spaces.

Urban Furniture for Sharing seeks to promote participatory urban culture and revitalise deactivated public spaces, our interdisciplinary team develops urban furniture, which is designed for sharing

Open Source Public Space Devices is a potential kit of resources and knowledge shared by communities and urban practitioners already involved in shaping and redesigning public spaces.

We want to understand how you can reinvent practices, devices and environments that enable people to feel like they can connect, create and collaborate in urban spaces.

We are doing this by carrying out research with neighborhoods and communities in public spaces, designing and making physical objects and collecting, developing and sharing the methods.

The challenge and process

We will be running a transnational workshop as part of OSCE Days on 13 - 14 June in Herne Hill, London with participants from Amsterdam, Barcelona, Berlin, London, Vilnius and Warsaw.

This workshop will help people design, make and document source public space devices that help people break down cultural and social barriers in public spaces. The public space we have chosen to focus on here is…car parking spaces!

From the devices and urban furniture prototyped, the designs will be open sourced and activities will be developed to create interactions between the furniture and the public spaces.

Call for help

How do we plan to work on the challenge?

People who’ve been uncovering how people experience and break down social and cultural barriers in neighbourhoods across Europe will be coming to London to share their stories.

We will work together to design and make urban furniture that can be used and repurposed for people to use in different and exciting ways, in public spaces that are unloved…in this case, car parking space.

Whether you’re never made furniture or you’re an avid maker, the only skill you’ll need is curiosity to learn and experiment with other people!

We will then come up with ideas for how people could use and hack the urban furniture in different ways and then…develop pop-up activities that put these ideas into practice that weekend!

We will document how we’re designing and making the furniture so that other people can make and use the furniture in their neighbourhoods.

How can you get involved?

Discover how people are developing exciting ways to bring different people together in public spaces…using urban furniture

Design and make urban furniture that can transform car parking spaces

Develop activities that get people to use the furniture you’ve made in exciting ways

We’re looking for people who can help design the urban furniture (i.e. product and interior designers, visual illustrators, artists), who can use materials and/or re-use existing furniture to make urban furniture that can fit and work within car parking spaces (i.e. makers) and people who can develop playful activities involving the urban furniture (i.e. games designers, artists, performers).

We’re looking for people who can bring materials that could be used to make the furniture (i.e. pallets, cardboard) or disused furniture they no longer need (i.e. chairs)

We will be based in the square around Herne Hill Station. You can sign up here.

What tools can you use if you want to run a similar workshop in their city?

We have been carring out research and using methods that you can use and contribute to at http://ecflabs.org/lab/public-space-makers.

Core team

@noelito Noel Hatch (European Alternatives) - Challenge leader and general coordination, social researcher.
@laimikis Jekaterina Lavrinech (Laimikis) - Social research leader, anthropologist
@pacogonzalez Paco González (@radarqnet) - Design leader, architect.


This looks great! It will definitely be great to tie this into and coordinate with the London OSCEdays and other challenges that will be worked on during the days at the Fab Lab (as well as other cities taking part). Recognise that it’s important, due to the nature of this one, to be based where you are outside in the community.

We’ve got some great contacts who’ve worked on furniture and circular design as well as social innovation, materials so could link and support communicating to participants (as well as during the event itself). I’m London based so would be good to connect on the ground! Also if the organisation, collaboration would like to be connected more across the OSCEdays.

p.s. We’ll be publishing the other challenges here soon

1 Like


That sounds great. We planned for this workshop to take place in the Herne Hill neighbourhood before we found out about OSCE days, otherwise we would have gladly done it at the Fab Lab!

Be great to let your contacts working in the field to know about our challenge and if there are other cities who’d like to work on the challenge. This workshop is part of a wider project based in Amsterdam, Berlin, Barcelona, London, Madrid, Sevilla, Vilnius and Warsaw and we have people coming from each of these cities to the workshop in London to design and make furniture and they will then take the designs (open source) and work in their cities to make - and hack - the furniture designs with recycled materials where they are.

I know the weekend of 13-14 June is the main part of OSCE days. Is anything planned for before then, it would be great to meet people like yourself coordinating the days in London, as well as people coordinating individual challenges.

All the best

Noel (part of the urban furniture team)


Hi @noelito @pacogonzalez definitely can link up with other organisations involved with OSCEdays - First one that comes to mind is MAKEA tu vida in Barcelona & their El Recetario project .

We don’t have another larger meet-up planned in advance at the moment (but hopefully will fit one in and will post in this forum) You can see what we discussed last time here and if you’ve got any advice/ ideas welcome :slight_smile: - but I’d be happy to meet-up anyway to learn more and see how we can link/share as well as support the open designs being taken to the other cities (we have local organisers now in many of the ones you mention). We’re also working with The Great Recovery who have done a lot of work recently on circular furniture design alongside the bulky waste aspect with furniture designers. There are also people that may be interested at the Goldfinger Factory

We’ll be posting links to other Headline Challenges soon from the main website so we could look at the best way to profile this Satellite event here too. You can email me at erica@technicalnature.org.uk as well to arrange to link up.

Hi there,

In France, we work with Upcycly https://www.facebook.com/UpCycly?fref=ts.
THeiy are doing a great job and succeded in building a sustainable business model ?
I can introduced you to them if it can be of any help !

ANtoine from Future Of Waste


Thanks! We know each other. @Makea and @esenabre @elsavague (Goteo) also invited radarq to the Barcelona OSCE days. But I’ll be in London those days, I hope we will meet each other =)

[Sorry for the delayed answer]

Ditto, shame we didn’t know about it at South London Makerspace because we’re in Herne Hill and would have been happy to host it.

I love the idea of whats being presented here but the OSCE website is really confusing, it’s almost impossible to know what is actually happening, where, when and if this is a collection of events or one big one… Really great event but very badly communicated.

Sadly it’s on at the same time as Open Tech on Saturday so I might not make it.