Personal Work, 05/2020  

Outdoor furnitures serves as a space for people to relax and engage in conversation. Within the context of urban living, the design and layout of outdoor furniture play a pivotal role in fostering a social atmosphere that encourages individuals to linger and connect.

Related Bachelor Thesis

'Atmosfurniture - 3D printed outdoor public furniture design based on eco-friendly concrete material'

Project Overview

Outdoor furniture that foster social atmosphere

Atmosfurniture is a series of outdoor public furniture designs that utilize recycled concrete material with 3D printing technology. The prefix “Atmos" derives from the word atmosphere, reflecting the social atmosphere evoked by the furniture group. Furniture items can be combined into a customizable furniture group to suit any ground layout, thus creating dynamic public spaces to enhance social interaction.

In this design, resting behaviors in public spaces are categorized into five height dimensions: "sitting," "leaning over," "leaning on," "blocking," and "stepping on." The furniture series aims to accommodate people's diverse behavioral possibilities and foster an inviting social space between buildings in urban life.


Lean over

Lean on


Step on

Sustainable Public Furniture

3D-printed Concrete material in outdoor application

Outdoor Environment

The outdoor environment subjects furniture to its most severe tests. Factors such as the sun, wind, rain, and natural elements all impact the durability of furniture. Concrete material is well-suited for outdoor use due to its resilience. Unlike portable outdoor furniture made from metal or wood, 3D-printed concrete furniture becomes rooted in the ground, resembling a stone that harmonizes with nature.

3D Printing

The 3D printing manufacturing process also gives furniture a unique appearance with a layered texture. Bulging shapes using continuous curves form the fundamental morphological language for them, making it difficult for dust and rain to settle, and at the same time non-aggressive. This gentle form always attracts people to have physical contact with the furniture and are more willing to spend a relaxing time.
Application Case: 3D-Printed Concrete Pedestrian Bridge In Shanghai


Translucent concrete is a special type of construction material, typically composed of cement, transparent resin, and other additives. Its transparency allows light to pass through the material, creating soft and dim lighting effects, which can be adjusted by controlling the direction and density of light. Due to its weather resistance and malleability, translucent concrete is often used in outdoor landscape lighting and architectural facade illumination.

Unit-Based Design

from unit to series with Morphological Language

Basic Units

Based on general ergonomics data, I have devised three manufacturing units: the Standing Unit, Leaning Unit, and Sitting Unit. The Standing Unit stands at a height of about 150cm, resembling a short pillar that does not obstruct sight entirely. The Leaning Unit is designed for individuals who prefer to lean over or on furniture, with a height of 80cm supporting the hips well when standing and providing a proper seatback for sitting. The Sitting Unit, similar to a standard chair, has a height of about 45cm.

Standing, leaning, and sitting units

Units Fusion

In this process, individual units can be combined or replicated to create a new furniture entity, offering people more resting possibilities. The implemented algorithm ensures that surfaces can be smoothly blended or reconstructed while maintaining the scale of each unit. With these units, there is considerable flexibility to adapt to various outdoor public spaces such as parks, gardens, or squares, matching the layout needs of each.

Furniture Series

The Standing and Leaning Units Series consist of 6 pieces each. Single or double-unit combo pieces serve a simple blocking function. Triple or multi-unit combo pieces combine two types of heights designed to support hips or elbows.

For block, lean on, and lean over

The Leaning and Sitting Units Series consist of 4 pieces each. The furniture's tail feature adds a touch of fun for people to step on and could also serve as a barrier for tree holes. From left to right, there is a double seat, a single seat, a symmetric long bench, and a centrosymmetric two-side bench.

For sit, step on and lean on

These are just a few examples of the numerous possibilities for units to combine into interesting furniture entities. When units combine as one, they can be flipped, elongated, and arrayed in various configurations.

Coexisting with Nature

Accommodate surrounding

Nature Creatures

For these three special pieces, nature creatures are considered in the design. The parterre is placed at the lowest level of the furniture's top surface to collect dust and rain, which can serve as nutrients for plants. Additionally, there is a dog hole through the furniture piece for pets to sneak through and play.

Lawn, Parterre, and Tree hole are three nature elements of different scales that were considered in the design within the outdoor environment. Tree holes and lawns are related to ground layout, while Parterre is embedded in the furniture.

Night Illumination

A light source is positioned inside the bottom part of the furniture. Unlike the upper section, a light-transmitting glass rod is incorporated into the cement during the 3D printing process at the bottom part, allowing light to pass through the slender glass rods and illuminate the ground, creating a subtle ambiance at night. This gentle lighting minimizes light pollution and provides adequate illumination to the surroundings during the evening.

Furniture Groups

Enhanced a dynamic social atmosphere

Dynamic furniture groups enrich people’s behavior, fostering connections with others and ultimately promoting a lasting atmosphere for meaningful social interactions. The graphic instruction below illustrates a schematic top view of the natural area, furniture group, and potential social space.

Daytime park

Nighttime city

Design Process

Theme: 3D Printing Technology with Recycled Concrete Material

3D-printed concrete was initially employed in architecture construction. As an additive manufacturing technique, it minimizes material consumption and saves time, as structures can be topologically optimized and partially hollow in round-the-clock production. Additionally, it offers a high level of design flexibility to create curved structures without the need for support. Research indicates the feasibility of using recycled construction waste to develop new eco-friendly alternatives to traditional concrete. Efforts are underway to identify an optimal mixture of recycled concrete materials that meet strength and durability requirements.


3D-Printed concrete

Case Study

This is a collection of 3D-printed woven concrete benches designed and manufactured by Studio 7.5 and XtreeE. Traditionally, creating patterns on a product using molds would be very expensive and challenging. 3D printing, an additive manufacturing technology, naturally enables the creation of patterns. The material's strength is capable of supporting human weight.

  • It is eco-friendly on material conservation.
  • 3D printing naturally create layered patterns

Coutour Crafting

Large-scale 3D-printed concrete often employs contour crafting technology. With this method, constructing a house yielding approximately 200 square meters of living space can be completed in just one day. Aside from emergency applications, 3D-printed concrete housing also offers an affordable and rapid housing solution for those unable to afford the expenses associated with conventional housing.

  • Contour crafting is used for large-scale production.
  • It boasts high construction efficiency.
  • It generates significant strength for irregular shapes.

Mechanical Properties

In the flexural strength test, the bending resistance is strongest perpendicular to the printing layer direction, followed by the horizontal plane perpendicular to the extrusion direction, and weakest along the extrusion direction.

  • 3D-printed concrete presents stronger mechanical properties in specific directions.


Table research And first-hand observation

Life between Buildings

"Life Between Buildings: Using Public Space" is a book written by Jan Gehl. It thoroughly describes how public open spaces influence urban living. Gehl defines life between buildings as the "need for contact" to experience other people functioning in various situations.

In Joseph M. Salla's book "Urban Elements: Furniture and Microarchitecture," the author distinguishes cities into 8 elements, namely: "Layout and Boundaries, Commerce, Public Services, Information, Gardens and Water, Cleanliness, Lighting, and Recreation." Drawing inspiration from his classification, I've developed my own category focusing on public urban furniture types accessible to all individuals.

Public outdoor furniture plays a crucial role in fostering a environment that attracts people to stop by and engage in social behavior. It's often challenging to find a resting place between buildings where people are willing to linger and truly feel relaxed. There is an invisible threshold that determines whether people will stay longer for possible social interactions or simply rest briefly before departing.

Field Observation

I conduct field observations in my neighborhood to assess the current condition of public outdoor furniture and find these design and pain points.

  • Near Nature: Outdoor furniture is often set next to lush areas, such as trees, bushes, and lawns, allowing people to get close to nature.
  • Durability: Furnitures' material may fade, wear out, or corrode over time due to prolonged exposure to sunlight, rain, and other natural elements.
  • Stability: Public outdoor furniture is anchored to the ground, providing stability and making it immovable as a public property.
  • Versatility: Most public furniture features similar designs and primarily focus on seating, failing to meet the diverse needs of various scenarios and purposes and accommodate different resting behaviors.


Individual, Social Depth and Environment

From Furniture to Space

The furniture group fosters a social atmosphere, attracting people to cross the threshold, feel comfortable, and engage in meaningful social interactions. It accommodates various depths of social needs and provides resting functions for individuals.

Outdoor public design intersection

Smell, Hear and See

The scale of furniture group usage is determined by sensory factors. Odor transmission typically occurs within 2-3 meters, while normal volume conversation can take place within 7 meters. Within 35 meters, volume may need to be slightly increased to hear spoken content clearly. A visual outdoor social distance of 3 meters is suitable, while within 30 meters, individuals can recognize acquaintances and within 100 meters, individuals can distinguish between different individuals. Based on the dimensions mentioned above, I have defined the scale of various aspects of outdoor furniture group design.

  • The distance between single furniture: 2-7m
  • The diameter of furniture group: 15m-35m
  • The distance between furniture groups: 30m-100m

Social Needs and Depth

Building upon Jan Gehl's theory, human activities in public environments can be broadly categorized into three types: necessary activities, optional activities, and social activities. Public environments have a strong influence on optional and social activities.

In outdoor environments, public elements serve as catalysts for progressive social reactions. During purposeful activities such as commuting or shopping, they provide incidental opportunities, attracting people to engage in spontaneous behaviors like walking around or stopping to observe. These optional activities emerge within necessary activities. If the elements within the environment are well-designed, over time and with the overlap of behaviors from multiple individuals, these ongoing spontaneous behavior gradually deeper social activities of a certain scale.

Environment Factor Grid

  • Suitable for Various Outdoor Environments
  • Linear path sides, corner, crossroad...
  • Open squares, gardens...
  • Centered layout...
  • Harmonizing with Wildlife and Lush Nature
  • Cats, dogs, birds, squirrels...
  • Bushes, lawns, trees...
  • Most Utilized by Elderly and Children
  • Incorporating Additional Features like Lighting

Height Dimensions

Resting furniture commonly used by people can be categorized into five types based on height and function. The following picture illustrates the resting behaviors and body dimensions corresponding to each of these heights.


Brainstorm with clay and sketch

Clay Crafting

Superlight clay naturally facilitates the creation of bulging shapes with continuous curves similar to the outcome of 3D-printed concrete. Using cardboard with a vertical striped texture to print on the surface can simulate the direction of 3D printing.

Sketch Brainstorm

Based on the shaped clay in the first step, I developed more design details and possibilities through paper sketches. Sketching helped me brainstorm various forms of morphological language

Focus Idea

Among all ideas, some are more suitable for manufacturing with 3D-printed concrete due to their dynamic shapes and structural requirements.

The selected sketch


Ultimate Design and 3D Modeling

Design Sketch

After establishing the fundemental morphological language, my design focuses on creating more interesting outdoor furniture that incorporates natural elements.

Modeling Unit-based Design

Use corresponding dimensions for basic 3D modeling and morphological language, then expand into a series of furniture models.

Design unit

Outdoor furniture series

Design Scale and Elements

All design series and co-exist elements

Structure and Function

In Air and Soil: The part embedded in the soil helps to securely anchor the furniture in its designated position on the ground.

Concrete and Translucent Concrete: The translucent concrete part resembles a lampshade embedded in the furniture, allowing light to emit and providing illumination during nighttime.

Front perspective view of furniture