In the district of Lombok. in the city of Utrecht, The Netherlands, the first pop-up lounge has been placed. Pop-Up, a piece of furniture for public spaces, is a design of Carmela Bogman and Rogier Martens.

Pop-up street furniture revealed

If you’re involved in any way with public spaces, you’ve experienced the positives and negatives of street furniture. Sometimes those lovely benches are the perfect fit. Sometimes they frankly get in the way.

When you’re setting up a stage, organizing a family event or featuring buskers, a great wide-open, unencumbered public space appeals to everyone.


This pop-up chair shows the possibilities for boardwalks and open public spaces. (stealmag)

When it’s lunchtime and everyone wants to bask in the sunshine and eat lunch outdoors, you wish for tables, chairs, benches and fountains.

Introducing the ultimate solution: Pop-up street furniture. This furniture folds and disappears into the sidewalk. It is fabulous for public spaces and creates great urban design.

Now you can have the luxury of benches, tables and chairs for part of the season and a flat space for events, gatherings and setting up something crazy or unique.

Now you can have places to sit and gather on sunny days and the perfect surface for shoveling snow in the winter.

pop-up bike racks

These cool pop-up bike racks disappear into the sidewalk when not in use. (buzzfeed)

Now you can have a chess tournament and a mini-football game, held hours apart, in exactly the same spot – without any messy take-down or installation.

We know how the murphy bed has the potential to change small apartments into spacious rooms. We have seen tremendous space saving designs for our homes and cars. But the public realm has traditionally been lacking in the innovation department.

pop-up garbage

This street garbage can design, by Christine Marriot, is comprised of four short, slim plastic posts, one for each type of recyclable. The slim poles keep the sidewalk clear by being mere entry points. The actual waste tumbles into sacks kept below grade. All four posts would be mounted on a single steel base.

But, why is that? Where in the world is space saving more important than in our precious public spaces. As cities take on greater population growth, our walkable space becomes increasingly precious.

We need green spaces, open spaces, sitting and eating spaces, but the footprint we have to work with is often tiny.

Whether it’s giant garbage cans, bus shelters, benches, tables or street advertising, we must be far more creative than ever before.

Street signs also take up much more space than they should. Design should focus on walkability and liveability. We must be willing to experiment and build a better city.


A Vancouver charity, RainCity Housing, is giving homeless people in this rainy city some dry coverage and a place to rest by converting city benches into pop-up shelters.


About Darryl Kaplan

Darryl Kaplan is a public speaker, author and advocate who believes that the BIG IDEA will save Main Street and create a new revolution in local living. An entrepreneur with a passion for small business and retail, Kaplan founded the Baby Point Gates Business Improvement Area in Toronto, and currently sits as its Chair. He was elected to the Executive Committee of the Toronto Association of Business Improvement Areas - an organization that represents 81 BIAs and 35,000 small businesses. A multiple award winner in communications, magazine writing and editing, Kaplan has had hundreds of columns and editorials published nationally.

One comment

  1. I am interested in finding out the manufacturer of the pop-up sidewalk bike racks in this article. Can someone please get back to me and let me know?

    Thank you,
    Chris Gomez
    District Manager
    Little Italy Association of San Diego

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