Landscape Architect & Specifier News

AUG 2014

LASN is a photographically oriented, professional journal featuring topics of concern and state-of-the-art projects designed or influenced by registered Landscape Architects.

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112 Landscape Architect and Specifier News Three women have created solar-powered benches ("Soofas"), and founded a start-up called Changing Environment, a spin-off from the media lab at MIT. "We want to reactivate the city and create a new shared social experience. Computers took people off the streets," said Jutta Friedrichs, co-founder and designer of the benches. "We envision Soofas acting as magnets that invite people to enjoy the outdoors while reading the news, sharing a video, or catching up on email without fear of running out of power." The Soofas are distinguished by a simple charging station, that uses solar power to charge up to two smartphones at a time. The first dozen Soofas have been installed throughout Boston, at locales like Titus Sparrow Park in the South End, the Boston Common and the Rose Kennedy Greenway. The benches were installed in partnership with Boston Mayor Martin Walsh's office of New Urban Mechanics, and funded by Cisco at no cost to the city. I n f o r m a t i o n R e q u e s t # 5 6 5 I n f o r m a t i o n R e q u e s t # 6 1 5 "Soofa" Benches Supply Solar Power on the Go R e p u r p o s i n g P l a y P i e c e s O v e r s e a s Park benches with built-in solar panels that can charge smartphones and download environmental data, known as "Soofas," have been installed in green spaces around Boston and Cambridge. Fourteen volunteers from Wayzata Evangelical Free Church in Plymouth, Minn., dismantle two play sets in Brooklyn Park, aided by a city worker with a tractor and chains to yank jungle gym footings from the ground. The volunteers cut support poles at the base, and deconstruct the slides, bridges and climbing equipment. Once repaired and painted, the play sets should last about 15 years in their new location. The dismantling is for Kids Around the World (Kids), a Rockford, Ill., Christian group that has installed secondhand playgrounds in countries where there is the need since 1994. Donors pay about 20 percent of the cost of a new play set to install a restored playground in another country, choosing from a catalog of play sets ranging from $7,000 to $20,000. The organization has an annual budget of $3.3 million, with paid staff in California and Rockford, where it has storage and repair facilities. Before 2010, Kids only bought and installed new playground sets, which cost $50,000 or more. About 100 new sets were installed over 15 years, ending up in Louisiana and Mississippi after Hurricane Katrina, to cities in Ukraine, Asia and Central and South America. Since shifting to used playground equipment, the group's work has expanded significantly. Since 2010, Kids has installed about 260 used sets in Europe, Asia, the Caribbean and Africa. Playground structures removed from two Minnesota parks in June will be refurbished and shipped overseas by Kids Around the World. The organization has placed play pieces in 360 playgrounds in 50 nations, including this 2012 installation in Thailand. CrediT: KidS Around The World

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