The “Uluru” collection by London-based Shiro studio for Italian brand Metalco has been conceived as a modular and sculptural family of seating elements made of UHPC, ultra high performance concrete.
Andrea Morgante of Shiro studio explains: “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 in the same time to offer a comfortable rest.”
Uluru’s sculptural identity begins from a plain surface that is gently pulled vertically to create a comfortable backrest support. Each component is modular so when connected to each other they form a continuous, sculptural micro-landscape that can vary in size and configuration.
Playfulness is also a very important feature: in public spaces benches can become an improvised playground, allowing children to explore different seating postures whilst engaging with their innate spatial curiosity.
“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. UHPC ductal allowed us to create an incredibly light yet rigid concrete structure, just 20 millimetres thick”.
The nearly non-porous surface allows Uluru’s final finish to be closer to polished granite than normal cast concrete. Compression strength, abrasion and thermal shock resistance and uv stability are among few of the qualities that are closely associated with uhpc.