Soon everyone will be talking to the lampposts

SUMMER 2005. After years of gridlock, pedestrians and cyclists have won the battle for city centre domination and the once powerful car lobby has been relegated to the suburbs.

Streets have been cleared of the mismatched paraphernalia so ubiquitous in the late 20th century when closed-circuit television cameras jostled for space with Victorian lamps and utilitarian postwar signposts.

Ugly black barrel wastebins and those uncomfortable wooden benches stained with bird droppings have been consigned to the annals of bad design history.

It may sound like a Utopian dream, but if Westminster Council has its way, this could soon be the new, pared-down look for central London in the 21st century. The council has launched a competition to develop a landmark family of futuristic street furniture based around the idea of a millennium post.

In the past, the borough's distinctive Misha Black red-lettered street name plaques and its Grey Wornum lamp columns have become international classics.

Now four design companies have been shortlisted for the competition and the winning furniture is expected to be off the drawing board and on to the streets by next summer.

Some four million people walk Westminster's pavements each day and, with this number expected to rise further, the search is on for furniture that will be multifunctional as well as attractive.

While the four family designs each have their own look and philosophy, all the companies envisage variations on the central theme of a network of multi-purpose posts providing lighting, information and communication links.

The posts incorporate clear and detailed waymarkers and touch-screens that allow people to book cinema tickets or leave messages for friends.

The inbuilt computer screens on the "one-stop posts" are completely interactive. So for those who take issue with a restaurant review that they earlier downloaded, there is the opportunity to register their disapproval.

Offensive language and pornography are automatically screened out of the vandal-proof system.

Constructed from individual components like circular seats, computer screens and even smartcard-operated bicycle racks, the posts can be clamped together in various permutations.

In the open spaces of Trafalgar Square and Victoria they could be dramatic six metre- high sculptures, topped by screens showing the latest in electronic art and advertising local exhibitions.

By contrast, in the cramped streets of Soho and older residential neighbourhoods, the posts are more likely to be toned down in keeping with their setting to provide canopied and ambient lighting. And, in the age of high street technology, those once-essential guidebooks could simply become an irrelevancy.

Passers-by will download street maps and cultural information on to their mobiles or portable computers from a distance of 100 metres, or simply read it off text strips at close range.

The shortlisted designs for Shaping the Heart of London by Peter Fink and Igor Marko, Mackenzie-Chong, Pearson LLoyd Design Partnership and Timpson Manley with Harland Design will be exhibited at the Architecture Foundation, Bury Street, London, from July 21 to September 15 when the winner will be announced.

Voices
Stephanie first after her public appearance as a woman at Rad Fest 2014
voices

Arts and Entertainment
Banksy's 'The Girl with the Pierced Eardrum' in Bristol
art'Girl with the Pierced Eardrum' followed hoax reports artist had been arrested and unveiled
Voices
Oscar Pistorius is led out of court in Pretoria. Pistorius received a five-year prison sentence for culpable homicide by judge Thokozile Masipais for the killing of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp
voicesThokozile Masipa simply had no choice but to jail the athlete
Life and Style
tech

Board creates magnetic field to achieve lift

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
Russell Brand at an anti-austerity march in June
peopleActor and comedian says 'there's no point doing it if you're not'
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
James Blunt's debut album Back to Bedlam shot him to fame in 2004
music

Singer says the track was 'force-fed down people's throats'

Life and Style
The Tinder app has around 10 million users worldwide

techThe original free dating app will remain the same, developers say

News
news

Endangered species spotted in a creek in the Qinling mountains

News
Bryan Cranston as Walter White, in the acclaimed series 'Breaking Bad'
news
News
peopleJust weeks after he created dress for Alamuddin-Clooney wedding
Life and Style
A street vendor in Mexico City sells Dorilocos, which are topped with carrot, jimaca, cucumber, peanuts, pork rinds, spices and hot sauce
food + drink

Trend which requires crisps, a fork and a strong stomach is sweeping Mexico's streets

Life and Style
tech

Company says data is only collected under 'temporary' identities that are discarded every 15 minutes

Life and Style
health

Some experiencing postnatal depression don't realise there is a problem. What can be done?

Arts and Entertainment
Gotham is coming to UK shores this autumn
tvGotham, episode 2, review
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior Pensions Administrator

£23000 - £26000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

Nursery Nurse

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: Level 3 Nursery NurseI am currently...

KS2 Teacher

£21000 - £34000 per annum + Excellent rates of pay, CPD, Support : Randstad Ed...

Nursery Nurse

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: Level 3 Nursery nurse required for ...

Day In a Page

Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Let's talk about loss

We need to talk about loss

Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album