The way that we navigate our cities is changing. People are increasingly walking, cycling and riding scooters to reach their final destination. There is also a growing need for street furniture where residents and visitors can relax and rest. Now, design students Corentin Janel and Guillaume Innocenti have come up with an intriguing concept – a rideable bench called “TOD”, short for “talk or drive”.
This idea won the Ford Fund Smart Mobility Challenge – and £12,500 (€14,600) for its creators that will go towards turning the project into reality. Organised by Ford Fund, the company’s corporate foundation and philanthropic arm, and the Royal College of Art, in the UK, students participating in the challenge came up with ideas that offer a sustainable urban mobility solution and benefit the community. “A rideable bench is a great example of how design can help form the fabric of cities, as it’s something that’s fun, practical and multi-functional,” said Amko Leenarts, director of design, Ford of Europe. “It’s a clever way to make mobility part of the city, encourage people to interact and enable people to experience cities in a totally new way.”
“TOD” is designed as an adaptable system with a static mode and mobile mode. In static mode, it is a bench that can be extended to accommodate three people. Accessories such as chairs and corners can easily by added using a plug-in style kit system, while a flat square can be connected to two benches to form a picnic table. In mobile mode, the sit-on scooter is for up to two people, with a maximum speed of 20 km/h. A hatch in the middle provides space for luggage, while stretching bands on the back and sides enable users to transport small and long items. Users can locate and book a bench or sit-on scooter using the dedicated app. “We wanted to create a community service that adapts to the urban life of its users. Winning the challenge gives us a lot of confidence in our proposal, and it allows us to build a prototype so that our idea can become a reality. Working on a full-scale prototype will enable us to fully understand the package and at the same time think about the materials, the process and the user experience,” said winning designers Janel and Innocenti. Ford Fund also awarded £5,000 (€5,840) to “Cardiac Patrol”, a proposal to equip private vehicles with automated external defibrillator devices for emergency use; and to “Communi-T”, an interactive vehicle that could help homeless people and those in need.