At first glance, the Pay & Sit bench by Fabian Brunsing is nothing more than a sadistic joke. (Though we like sadistic jokes!) It's simply a bench with motorized spikes, which retract only when you feed it some coins:
Kinda fitting that Brunsing, a photographer and designer, is German, right? Those dudes love making everyday life just a tad creepy/terrifying/bizarre.
Anyway, the design, funny as it is, got us thinking about a legitimate urban problem: Paying for public amenities. The problem that most cities have when building parks and public spaces is that while everyone might like them, many Americans think any tax to pay for them is some kind of covert government conspiracy. (Thanks Rush! You too, Glenn and Sarah!)
The Pay & Sit bench naturally raises the possibility that you could create design elements that pay for themselves, through subtle modifications of their designs, which render them unusable unless you pay a little bit. For example: What about a playground slide that only slants upwards when you pay? Or an electrified grassy lawn that becomes safe when enough people plunk down cash?
I'm only partly kidding. But I halfway hope that we end up with something like this, just to emphasize how ridiculous the world starts looking once any sort of government project becomes the devil.