Since 2015, the School of Constructed Environments, Parsons School of Design teams up with the New York Department of Transportation to create the annual Parsons Street Seats space. 


Class of 2017 Mission

Street Seats is a program launched by the Department of Transportation to maximize public seating throughout the city. In partnership with The New School, this public seating structure was designed and built by a multidisciplinary group of students.

The structural framework is made from 360 pieces of Vietnamese bamboo. The design acts as a multi-level planter creating an organic separation between the road and the sidewalk while providing six benches that cantilever off the main frame.

The inspiration to use bamboo came from seeing its application in scaffolding and infrastructure throughout many countries across Asia. As an organic grass it is incredibly fast growing and produces little waste when harvested. When used correctly it has impressive structural properties that can rival those of concrete and steel.

The plants in this structure are suspended in 75 pouches made with recycled water bottles. This unique material provides a porous enclave in which vegetation flourishes. The twelve solar panels mounted to the frame provide energy to LED lights embedded into a number of the planters. This solar powered lighting is activated by an Arduino, with a light sensor that triggers light to activate in the evening.

The whole project intends to offer a unique space of rest and respite within in the busy metropolitan environment in which it is located and encourage the implementation of alternative materials that have a lighter environmental footprint than some of their counterparts.

What We've Achieved

  • Designed seating benches within the structure to allow for more visitors to enjoy the space beyond the additional tables and seats placed in the area. 
  • Fabricated the space from 360 pieces of bamboo.
  • All plants within the structure are held up by 75 recycled water pouches. 
  • Created a smart lighting system by programming one Arduino to read a light sensor in order to initiate the lights on a nightly basis. 
  • Powered by six solar panels to run the clean powered lighting system.  
  • Installed 15 LED lights that illuminate the space in the evening.