Circular City Objects

Circular City Objects

What if the objects that inhabit our urban landscapes were designed, manufactured, and maintained differently?

We are a design collaborative passionate about developing circular solutions that improve our cities. Utilizing diverse experiences in industrial design, material research, fabrication and engineering, we reevaluate systems and deliver creative results to initiate changes we believe in.

A winning submission to the OpenIDEO & Nike Design with Grind Challenge

 
 
 
 
 
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All illustrations by the talented Cassandra Fountaine | follow her instagram @heycasshey

 
 

The Ambition

Design responsible products that shape behaviors toward a viable future

OpenIDEO’s Circular Innovation Challenge with NIKE titled, Design with Grind prompted us to consider how we might create a waste-free, circular future by designing everyday products using Nike Grind material.

We set an ambitious goal to create products that not only minimize material loss but also help further wide, systemic changes that are necessary to achieve a viable future. Our proposal is to use Nike’s rubber manufacturing waste to create objects that are not only circular by design but play a role in encouraging positive actions and attitudes.

 

Nike Grind materials are created from Nike’s recycled manufacturing materials.

 
 
 
 

The Opportunity

Why Street Safety?

Street safety products are semi-permanent or temporary objects in the built environment that negotiate the relationship between modes of transportation within shared spaces. Ensuring pedestrians and cyclists are protected from harm, street safety products are necessary in our car-centric world. They include bike lane delineators, curb extensions, speed cushions, raised crosswalks, access ramps, bollards, traffic cones, jersey barriers, informational signage, traffic-calming devices and more.

City governments and planners purchase products outright from suppliers. They provide necessary assurance to citizens that occupy and travel through the city’s public spaces. Contractors working on large-scale infrastructure projects will also procure street safety products to organize the flow of traffic if the street’s operation is impacted. Akin to most products that function within a linear economy, street safety products are manufactured, distributed, placed in use, damaged, and disposed of with very little concern for their value.

These products are currently treated as disposable items. Everyday consumer goods, like street safety products, are typically handled differently than luxury goods. Aiding products with an integrated service model that includes maintenance provides users and beneficiaries with a final result that functions better, avoids the landfill, and retains its worth. Applying concepts of repair, reuse and reclamation to these products could dramatically affect user opinions about disposability.

 
 
 

THE Proposition

A Product-Service System

For urban agencies and city planners who wish to offer safe transit through public spaces, our circular city objects and accompanying service models are offered through a unique leasing program that integrates installation, maintenance, repair, and storage through collaborative action, eliminating these burdens for city governments.

 
 
 

THE Material

Connora + Nike Grind

Connora’s thermosetting epoxy casts beautifully with Nike Grind’s rubber. The tests were sturdy and flexible with no flaking. Even more importantly, Connora engaged in dialogue with us, were open about their capabilities, collaborated to produce a formula specialized to our application, and had a reclamation process in place. Their ability to separate composite materials with non-toxic chemicals resulted in a zero-waste product that completes our closed-loop cycle.

 
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Connora offers a dynamic range of epoxy formulations for various composite manufacturing processes

 
 
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THE Solution

Experience Map

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The jumping-off point.

After we introduce the bike lane delineators to New York City’s government representative, the two parties negotiate a contract which will ultimately signify a commitment to sustainability. This sparks the jumping-off point to identify installation locations for bike lane delineators across the city.

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Installing bike lane delineators.

Per specifications in the contract, company workers will now install bike lane delineators throughout the city in designated locations. 

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A day in the life of a bike lane  delineator.

With bike lane delineators successfully installed throughout the city, bikers and pedestrians can safely travel in New York City’s busy urban environment. There is now a visibly safe division between drivers and cyclists/pedestrians. 

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Inevitable wear and tear.

Following inevitable wear and tear (i.e. extreme weather conditions, vehicular damage, etc.) damage will eventually occur.

 
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Community Aid.

If a city resident discovers a damaged bike lane delineator, they can take an active role in having it repaired/replaced. They simply take a photo of the bike lane delineator via the camera in the 311 app, including a geotag to specify location. This action will notify the city, prompting swift repair or replacement.   

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Repair. Renew. 

After receiving the 311 notification, the city contacts us to deploy a maintenance crew for either repair or replacement. A maintenance worker simply goes to the location of the broken bike lane delineator, uninstalls the bike lane delineator (or repairs on site, depending on severity) and replaces it with a new one, and then sends the damaged bike lane delineator to the city’s reclamation center.

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Reclaim. Reuse.

Once the bike lane delineator reaches the reclamation center, it is broken down inside a tank of acidic liquid, separating the rubber granules from the adhesive resin. Then, after the break-down process, the rubber granules are safely recast into a bike lane delineator mold with new resin, producing a brand new bike lane delineator from the same material.

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Good as new.

Once all aspects of the bike lane delineator’s maintenance are approved per specifications noted in the original contract to maintain consistency in care and functionality, the new and improved bike lane delineator is ready for reinstallation.

 
 

The Process

How We Got Here

For proof of concept, we prototyped two bike delineators designs that are already in the market. When choosing, we considered cyclist-perceived safety, visibility, and traffic compatibility, among other factors. Moving forward, we plan to develop our own series of circular city objects specifically designed with our material in mind.

 
 
 
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Next Steps

Pilot Program Here we Come

Our minimum viable product is a pilot program of our product-service system. We envision this program running for roughly two years, during which time we will be able to test both our service model and the performance of our products. We look forward to understanding how the products react to sun exposure, seasonal changes, distress, and impact. However, we are mostly excited about getting feedback from cyclists, pedestrians, drivers, and the community at large.

 
 
 
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Product Development

INTENT

Develop original forms that work with Connora + Grind Material Composite while considering urban needs

OUTPUT

Designs ready for manufacturing


 
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Research & Development

INTENT

Experiment with color-dyeing the resin. Consider grind color separation. Explore different physical properties of resin

OUTPUT

Final resin formula and grind material configuration

 
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Manufacture

INTENT

Identify fabrication facility. Make tooling for mass manufacture and plan for future reclamation needs

OUTPUT

Initial batch of bike delineators

 
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Testing & Optimization

INTENT

Inspect products to make sure they are fit for use and align with industry standards and expectations

OUTPUT

Ready to install bike delineators for Pilot Program

 

Thinking ahead

Future Circular City Objects

 
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Meet the Team

The Dream Team

We are a group of designers and engineers trying to make a difference.

 
Cody Miller

Cody Miller

Dan Penge

Dan Penge

Carla Ramirez Sosa

Carla Ramirez Sosa

Elisia Langdon

Elisia Langdon

Megan Lighty

Megan Lighty

Kyle Ramos

Kyle Ramos

 
 
 
 
 

We are looking for mentorship, feedback and collaboration.

Want to get involved? Have a question or even a suggestion? Reach out to us! :)

 
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