While underfunded public spaces in the US typically cannot support flexible street furniture that is not connected to some type of commercial franchise, its commonplace in the elegant civic spaces 0f Paris, like the Tuileries Garden.
The green chairs above are some of the hundreds of chairs that are distributed throughout the garden. Park users routinely drag them to a favorite spot or assemble them to accommodate groupings of various sizes.
Here in the US the way this is accomplished is usually by attaching the chairs to a commercial enterprise like a cafe, the familiar outdoor cafe seating. Another approach, such as that used by the recently constructed Mint Plaza in San Francisco, is to set up a Community Benefits District to provide and manage the seating.
A recent example of Coin-Op urbanism is what the French call "la Vélorution". The city of Paris rolled out a citywide bicycle program involving 10,600 bikes in a bid to cut gridlock and give citizens a greener way to get around town.
JCDecaux, the world's second biggest outdoor advertising company, has established 750 computer-aided rental stations throughout Paris and that number is expected to almost double this year to 1,460. (In comparison, the Metro has just 300 stations.) The company designed rock-solid bicycles and had them built in Hungary, and it operates the entire network at its own expense. In return, JCDecaux gets the exclusive rights to sell advertising on the city's 1,628 urban billboards for the next 10 years.
This sort of operation may have started with the luggage cart rental in the airport, which like outdoor seating, was once provided for free as a matter of course.
Part of what we're hoping to explore during the workshop is a hybrid between the Bushwaffle and the Smartecarte as a potential solution for creating outdoor creature comforts in public space.