IN: Inspiration

ISABELO: AFRICA’S FIRST SMART BENCH

Isabelo is a Wi-Fi-enabled, solar-powered bench which aims to bridge the digital divide evident in cities all over Africa.

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Rebuilding Braamfontein

The Isabelo team have partnered with property developer group South Point, adding an extra, exciting dimension to the group’s strategy to rebuild Braamfontein as an inclusive space where students can work, live and be social.

Braamfontein

[Image source: http://www.isabelo.co/#about]

Creating a Shared Space

The product name is derived from the isiZulu word meaning “to share”, and perfectly encapsulates the purpose of the bench – a space that people can share a seat with people around them and share ideas with others online. Louise Meek, the founding director of the Isabelo Smart Bench says that through providing totally public access to the internet, the bench has the potential to democratise public spaces.

Creating a shared space

[Image source: http://www.isabelo.co/#about]

Isabelo’s Immediate Success

Although the bench prototype was first tested in the Maboneng Precinct, the first cast concrete Isabelo Smart Bench has been launched at The Grove Square in the centre of Braamfontein, Johannesburg. Its introduction has been an immediate success, seeing an average of 50 users per hour, with the daily number steadily increasing.

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The bench has been designed by none other than Adriaan Hugo and Katy Taplin of Dokter and Misses, who have their studio just up the road from Grove Square. The duo is very excited about the project and the effects it could have on public urban spaces. “We are working on a great product,” says Adriaan. “Our vision is to have at least 10 Isabelo smart benches in Joburg by the end of this year, with more benches being installed in other South African cities over the next 12 months.”

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The Future for Isabelo

The project doesn’t stop there. The broader vision is to have thousands of Isabelo benches in cities all over the African continent, unlocking untapped value in public spaces by connecting people, physically and virtually.

Learn more about Isabelo Smart Bench:

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