Citizen-Crafted Seating from Repurposed Materials to Transform City Spaces | Urban Networks

A team of students from the University of Applied Arts recently bagged the Social Design Award at Vienna Design Week for their Urban Networks project. The Membran collective, consisting of Frida Teller, Julia Hahnl, Tobi Kauer and Julia Habarda, salvaged discarded tarps from Vienna’s construction sites to create a machine that transforms these materials into robust ropes. Here is a detailed report on SURFACES REPORTER (SR).


Membran’s DIY rope-making machine, constructed from repurposed wooden pallets, facilitates easy participation and transport, allowing it to be set up in various public locations.

Installed at Praterstern, a bustling interchange, the machine engaged passersby during the festival, encouraging them to participate in crafting the ropes and knitting them into temporary seating for the square. This innovative approach repurposes waste materials and involves citizens in shaping their urban spaces, fostering community engagement without relying on new virgin materials. The project addressed Austria’s significant construction waste stream, offering a democratic way to reconstruct the city through collaborative design.


This innovative approach repurposes waste materials and involves citizens in shaping their urban spaces, fostering community engagement without relying on new virgin materials.

Membran’s DIY rope-making machine, constructed from repurposed wooden pallets, facilitates easy participation and transport, allowing it to be set up in various public locations. The process takes 10-15 minutes, emphasizing accessibility for widespread implementation. The resulting large nets, created using macrame knotting techniques, form hammock seats, bringing diverse individuals together in the collaborative process.


The resulting large nets, created using macrame knotting techniques, form hammock seats, bringing diverse individuals together in the collaborative process.

Image credit: Marcella Ruiz Cruz and Tobias Kauer

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