Unless thousands of us bought multiple copies of each game; the number of copies of the SimCity series implies that millions of us have tried our hand at designing and running our very of town or city, making us well aware of the financial demands of providing electricity, water and gas to a thriving metropolis.  We also come to consider the importance of residential areas and accommodation, of road systems and, of course, the sewage system!

However, as a “decorator of the public realm” – as I have started to refer to myself – I have come to wonder how many people understand the importance of street furnishings.  Although the name may suggest spray-painted desks and lamps made of old gun parts; street furniture is the term used to refer to a massive array of objects and equipment used in the public domain – things that SimCity didn’t require you to budget for!

Although street furniture includes the obvious features like benches and lights, the term also the less-obvious parts – traffic signs, post boxes and the random bollards that make it even harder to drive around the city.  All of these have to come from somewhere and, personally, I think they should come from people with a flair for design!  Think about it; when you walk down the street you are confronted with a fair few phone boxes, loads of lights and scores of signs – wouldn’t it be nice if they had a localised theme, or at least some form of artistic influence rather than just being blobs of concrete and steel?  The government continues to persuade more and more people to go to university; creating an even greater underclass of people with useless arts degrees, struggling to make half the money of those who left school and sixteen – why not put these people to use designing street furniture?  If ever there was a way to help unite the country and give us something to be proud of when the 2012 Games come around – letting the people design the streets has to be a start!  

All aspects of street furniture have an impact on your state of mind – more than you might realise!  When people think about England they may well consider the Queen, Big Ben and football hooliganism; but they also think about red post boxes, the lack of free public toilets and, of course, the big red telephone boothes!  These are things that stand out in people’s minds because they are novel and they stand out from the otherwise bland, grey surroundings that make up a lot of urban Britain.  

Imagine bronze street-lights spiral ling upwards into the sky before branching out like creamy metallic trees, decorated with multiple bright lights.  Imagine post boxes with friendly faces, mouths open to receive your post.  Imagine street signs designed by the very people that live on the street, as a reflection of their thoughts and interest!  Alright so it’s not Heaven, but it’s more interesting, more novel and more fun than what we have now!  Also, think of the benefits to community spirit!  Who would want to vandalise a bus stop that they’d helped to design?

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eremy Langley is a street designer and recommends you visit http://www.citysquared.co.uk/ for more information about street furniture

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