Bollards for People and Not for Cars
by David Andreas Artuffo
Amsterdam is probably the city with most bollards in the world.
In 1970 the tiny streets of the city of Amsterdam were packed with illegal parking and no side walk space was left. The city then introduced a ubiquitous red bollard with three X embossed on it to prevent motorists from parking where it was not allowed to do so.
Later this little bollard was called Amsterdammertje and became, likely or not, one of the main symbols of the city.
Bollards are objects that belong to a city’s infrastructure, primarily designed by civil engineers with the mindset of preventing something. Although they do the job well of preventing cars to park, due to their strong presence in the urban landscape, they often become objects that belong more to the people’s sphere than the traffic sphere.
People always touch, lean against, sit, play or step over elements of urban infrastructure. All these facts inspired me to think that the Amsterdammertje had a lot of potential.
What would happen if these objects were to be designed with having firstly the people in mind?
Curious about the answer I installed a bike saddle on top of an Amsterdammertje to see what would happen.
These “Sitting Prototypes” were very successful. The people had no difficulties noticing that something in the streetscape was different and was placed there for them to be used freely.
By observing the people over longer periods, it appeared that the seating extensions were more likely to be used if somebody else was already using one of them. This aspect underlines how human beings are likely to be attracted by other people. In order to create streets as vital places we should provide enough space to make this phenomenon possible.
The prototypes turned out useful and highlighted new interesting aspects for the use of the street elements and opened new possible paths for urban designers to think about new typologies of street elements.
Since the first success I decided to make more of them and place them in interesting spots of the city.
We call them ZIP or Zitpaaltjes that stands for “sitting poles” in Dutch and you can read more about the ZiP story here: zitpaaltje.tumblr.com