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Ductile concrete: 'Uluru' street furniture by Shiro Studio

Designed by London-based Shiro Studio for the Italian firm Metalco, 'Uluru' is a modular and sculptural family of seating elements made of Ultra High Performance Concrete (UHPC). As Andrea Morgante of Shiro Studio comments: "I was interested in generating a serene form that could gently relate to the human body whilst seating in different postures and positions. Public benches have somehow the noble responsibility to connect people to the surrounding environment and at the same time to offer a comfortable rest." The sculptural identify of the Uluru collection is owed to the smooth horizontal surfaces that gently extend upwards to turn into a comfortable backrest. All the elements are modular, meaning they can be connected together to form sculptural micro-landscapes that can be varied in size and configuration. The designers see playfulness as an important feature: by providing the possibility to try out various seating positions, their benches can thus become improvised playgrounds in the public sphere. "The availability of UHPC was also a crucial factor during the design development of the 'Uluru' collection", Morgante explains. "We wanted to fully explore and challenge the vast potential of this innovative and versatile material through a form that could emphatically communicate lightness, strength, and fluidity. The result is an incredibly light yet rigid concrete structure just 20 millimetres thick."

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