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Harness the Heat: Thermally Active Urban Furniture

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Harness the Heat, an innovative urban furniture project developed by a team from MIT, is redefining outdoor comfort with its thermally active bench. This project, launched in 2021, aims to regulate city temperatures by utilizing wasted heat to cool in the summer and heat in the winter. The latest prototype, showcased at the MIT Museum’s After Dark Series: Heat, showcases a bench designed to improve outdoor comfort in urban environments.

The team behind Harness the Heat experimented with various materials and ultimately settled on a design featuring a closed water loop and a timber superstructure with strategic concrete ‘pebbles.’ These pebbles, when activated, create targeted cooling zones of 17.6°C, offering a refreshing respite for visitors during hot summers. In the winter, the bench harnesses wasted heat to provide warmth, making outdoor spaces more comfortable and livable throughout the year.

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adpluslstudio art learning design instapost post explore UrbanFurniture SustainableDesign OutdoorComfort PublicSpaces UrbanLiving EnvironmentalDesign InnovativeDesign ClimateChangeAdaptation SustainableCities

Harness the Heat’s approach to urban furniture design is distinguished by its focus on intelligent material choices and the utilization of wasted heat. This approach sets it apart from more standardized furniture design practices, allowing for innovative solutions to urban heat management. The team’s inspiration came from observing inefficient outdoor heating solutions during COVID and identifying nearby sources of wasted urban heat, such as steam leaks and building exhausts.

Looking ahead, Harness the Heat aims to continue developing tactically and thermally responsible outdoor furniture installations. The team is exploring partnerships and collaborations to further their mission of creating more comfortable and sustainable outdoor public spaces in cities.

adpluslstudio art learning design instapost post explore UrbanFurniture SustainableDesign OutdoorComfort PublicSpaces UrbanLiving EnvironmentalDesign InnovativeDesign ClimateChangeAdaptation SustainableCities
adpluslstudio art learning design instapost post explore UrbanFurniture SustainableDesign OutdoorComfort PublicSpaces UrbanLiving EnvironmentalDesign InnovativeDesign ClimateChangeAdaptation SustainableCities

The project aligns with FURNITURE TRENDS 2024, which emphasize functionality, sustainability, and innovation. As cities grapple with the effects of climate change, furniture designs that can actively contribute to regulating temperatures and improving outdoor comfort are becoming increasingly relevant. Harness the Heat’s thermally active bench exemplifies this trend, offering a glimpse into the future of urban furniture that integrates technology and sustainability to create more livable cities.

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