Urban Adapter by Rocker-Lange Architects


Rocker-Lange Architects of Boston and Hong Kong are exhibiting a system for creating endlessly variable, site-specific street furniture as part of the Hong Kong & Shenzhen bi-city biennale of Urbanism/Architecture.

Called Urban Adapter, the project features a computer model that uses data about the intended site to generate the form of a bench, which is then constructed from wooden profiles.

Litter bins and planters could also be incorporated.

See our previous stories about the biennale:

Hong Kong & Shenzhen Biennale photos
A Model City by drdharchitects
Built to Wear by Ball-Nogues Studio
Monster’s Footprint by MAD
Bug Dome by WEAK!
Bloody Haze by MAP Office
Shenzhen & Hong Kong Biennale photos
The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Mésarchitectures

Here's some more information from Rocker-Lange Architects:


"Urban Adapter" - New Urban Street Furniture for Hong Kong.

Hong Kong's urban furniture contains multiple functional objects. Each of them belongs to a different set of formal expression or is part of a different style.

While variation is obvious in the style mix of Hong Kong's public furniture, there is a lack of uniformity in the formal expression that could foster a unique Hong Kong identity.

This design proposal for a contemporary city bench seeks to understand the concept of street furniture as a holistic design problem.
Instead of offering only one single static design, this scheme suggests multiple varying solutions that meet specific fitness criteria.

The project "Urban Adapter" is based on a digital parametric model. At its core the model utilizes explicit site information and programmatic data to react and interact with its environment.

That way the model's DNA structure is capable of producing a variety of unique furniture results.

Together they generate an endless family of new urban bench furniture. Rather than having a fixed form the members of the family can adapt to different site conditions and programmatic needs.

While all of the designs have the ability to serve as a seating element, some have additional programmatic values added, such as recycling containers, flower buckets or billboards serving for advertisement or educational purposes.

Click for larger image

The generated functional surface invites the user to new seating and communication arrangements and establishes a unique identity for the urban space of Hong Kong.

Posted on Friday January 8th 2010 at 2:16 pm by Natasha Lyons. Copyright policy | Comments policy

  • fer


  • chapmaniac

    beautiful. but who wants an endless bench? id like one of these in my city. more than that defeats the purpose

  • fritz

    nice one

  • Rembo

    Rembo suggests that this project is a compositional and tectonic improvement on Halaby’s early Catia research of 2004. Wait, did Rembo just say 2004?! Cripes! For all the value of digital and CNC research, can we move it along a little? And escape the usual digital memes?

  • Great design! Uses alot of material and can’t help but think of the amount of waste.

  • Matthias

    One choppy ride for them skateboarders.

    • Sean

      The great thing of this design is that it can be created with any medium. It could easily be made into a concrete structure where the design would be almost ideal for skateboarders. It is an incredibly inspired design, and in such exudes inspiration. ( ^-^)

  • Booh

    What a great comment :P

    Do a series of benches that promote poor skate boarding grinds… to discourage their [use as]… for the lack of a better term… grind-ed-ness…

  • andy

    new design?
    looks a little bit like “sitscape” from hackenbroich – year 2004

  • xyz

    Well…. it looks pretty EXACTLY like it.

    # andy Says:
    January 8th, 2010 at 10:27 pm

    new design?
    looks a little bit like “sitscape” from hackenbroich – year 2004

  • yar

    yawn… is this student work from the start of the decade? Is that made from MDF? If so a skateboard would thrash that to pieces and so would the weather.

  • almc

    Does look like a more comfortable version of sitscape. Either way, would love to see this on any street and see how people and kids use it/play with it.

  • martin

    wow – amazing. nice that the usual “we cut the slices of a piece of Nurbs geometry” now made it from academia, through all architectural schools of the globe, heaps of other realized pieces by known and unknown architects (check this out http://www.wem3.dk/#/bruuns_bazar ) into a biennale. I had hoped that such a place is reserved for fresh ideas and approaches that fit the needs of 21th century….

  • eye+

    well it doesn’t seem to be such an intelligent way for making a bench. the shape is ok but it stops right there, the more you look at it the less you like it. and most of all the choice of the fabrication technique doesn’t seem to be so convincing.
    the conceptual framework and the “A UNIQUE HONK KONG IDENTITY” stuff makes it sound even worse. it pretends to be more than what it is.

  • Interesting design, but not as a piece of street furniture. Imagine the poor cleaner trying to remove all the rubbish and leaves that get stuck between all those slats…

  • cpcp

    HOW MUCH WOOD!?!?!?

  • arnulfo alamil

    ive seen that before! it looks like Zaha’s design..

  • utah

    Well, I would love to see furniture like that in my city. Can’t stand the stuff that is produced by some stupid companies and mutilates our public space.
    In terms of material, I think if it lasts forever, why not.
    It’s the same if you buy a good pair of shoes. They last a lifetime.

  • Dan

    Very nice idea.

    Here is my solution to the problem of producing street furniture.

  • yrag

    Very labor intensive— still, great design!

    But why, WHY do designers feel compelled to write stunning drivel like this:

    “This design proposal for a contemporary city bench seeks to understand the concept of street furniture as a holistic design problem.”

    Utter nonsense— pompous puffery. Why?

  • andy – the sitscape design also looks less wasteful.

    couldn’t the same thing be accomplished with metal, bent to the desired cross sectional shape? god knows how long wood will last outdoors given the elements and real people actually sitting on it.

  • coops

    This often-used design vertebrae form really needs reinventing, perhaps as a shape for a building. The use of the shape as an ext bench or interior sofa needs a new 'twist'.

  • Ron B.

    Hmmm. This basically a rip-off. It's exactly the exact concept as the Topography Seating system produced by the Swedish brand LYX (http://www.lyx.com/collection/seating-topografi/1069389-topografi-seating). We specified it in concrete for a project 2005 and is has won a bunch of awards like Red Dot and IDEA. And I've seen it featured in magazines everywhere.Which means that it was made long before 2009 and is well acknowledged design. Obviously you can get away with everything in China. Sad.

  • idplano

    This is the same speech parametric design… it’s like the Sustainable speech, which is nothing more than greenwashing.

    You do not need an algorithm or grasshopper to design, this is simply a bench to sit and order, not a manifesto sculptural, is as designs of houses that seem Museums, we forget that the house has to do with domestic ?

    Thinking in designing fact, not even that complex, Eero Sarinen Grassopper had no or algorithms. And no need to speak of “adaptation” “topology” “responsive” “morphology” “Growth” “Chaos theory” “fragmentation” “Complex Geometries” fractal “,” Nonlinear Dynamics “,” chaos “” Self-Organized Systems “and a string of Pseudo Genetic Theories and interpretations and / or biological Conservation ….. Never mind that it is full of “clichés” where you look at it, and has plenty of material everywhere.

    Well, maybe we can understand a little more about why the Discipline of architecture is in crisis. Because it happens in many cases we have to study architecture and then 10 years as a designer finish, display, artist, or having to study programming in order to be part of a group of 800 architects in a quasi pyramid.

    Okay, I’m not against the “Interdisciplinary” but hey, we architects architecture, anything goes, everything is diluted.