There’s nothing wrong with the traditional park bench, a place to stretch your legs and catch your breath, except for its wasted potential. How many of us will sooner cram into a Starbucks than lounge outside because public seats lack the simplest of conveniences: access to electricity (and maybe Wi-Fi)?
Street Charge is what design studio PENSA calls an “urban intervention.” It’s a solar-powered rest stop for the New Aesthetic, a place for your phone to sit dedicated to squeezing in a 5-minute email check without killing that last remaining sparks inside your smartphone battery.
Think about it: The urban professional doesn’t need gas, Funyuns, ample parking or a patch of grass for their kids to run around like a typical vehicle commuter. The only thing most of them need is to top off is their mobile phone of choice. As of today, there’s a whole infrastructure of coffee shops and bakeries that fill this role in big cities--not so differently than gas stations fill the role of rest stops where public funding grows dry--but it’s a relatively lousy solution. Much like you’ll end up buying a bag of chips to assuage your guilt for using a gas station bathroom, so too will you ingest sugary lattes and fatty pastries to borrow a power outlet and a reliable internet connection from Caribou Coffee.
And that’s what makes PENSA’s vision interesting. It’s nothing mechanically complex that needs massive amounts of real estate to implement. Rather, it’s a solution that could fit in our current public infrastructure of street signs tomorrow. It’s just smart design. And if it only came with a caffeine dispenser and a Wi-Fi hotspot, we’d really have something.