Trees and other plants provide amazing fodder (compost?) for the imagination. This is a wonderful thing, although it can have mixed results — something we’ve talked about before.
I love the idea of using tree shape and structure as the inspiration for better design for other site amenities, in this case, lampposts. While I’m not a product engineer or designer, it’s easy to see how these tree-inspired lights from Danish design firm KiBiSi are an improvement over the standard. They look nicer and seem like they’d be more functional.
This design, called “sTREEt,” is — in KiBiSi’s words — “a breed of functional trees for urban programs that consolidates the current cacophony of street furniture into a new hybrid species… The family of sTREEt ranges from little sprouts combining a few elements, to the mother tree that occurs on urban squares and generous public spaces. In addition to social elements such as seating, playthings and swings, the mother tree sports a tree crown of solar panels to create shade and shelter for the urban space beneath it, as well as to power the local ecosystem of sTREEt.”
Like ShiftBoston’s dragon’s blood creations, these “sTREEts” are elegant and light in a way that is very true to the structure of actual trees. They also incorporate solar panels, interactivity, and other innovative design solutions. Still, I’m confused and skeptical about KiBiSi’s statement that they can create shade and shelter for the built areas beneath it. How would that work again? They make take their inspiration from trees, but I think the comparison ends there.
It’s beautiful design, and surely elements of it have a proper spot in the urban environment. But as a replacement for trees, it doesn’t even come close.