Newspaper boxes

Our streetcorners are frequently habitat to brightly coloured metal boxes dispensing a variety of advertising media and sometimes even purchased media.

Sometimes I think the colour splat enlivens the city, particularly our spectacularly dull downtown.

From time to time, someone tries to impose some order on the jumble of boxes by requiring users to rent box space from a standardized dispenser. This three pack doesn’t take up much room, but I question its architectural style (although the hoods may serve to make robbing the coin box more difficult):

fla jan 2013 047


Or this super-sized mono-box I saw in Toronto last year, which manages to confuse with complicated coin instructions. In Ottawa, we would have twice as much text, in two languages:



The last time Ottawa tried to impose a “street furniture” regime, it failed, due to a variety of factors including overdesign and underdesign.

I was interested to notice this newspaper box dispenser that tries to mask the motley collection of boxes within its bounds. It struck me as a good design, since it was flexible, standardized, didn’t require bureaucrats allocating scarce space or impose administration costs.

fla jan 2013 400


Here’s a closer look. Now you can see it is really just a cover for three boxes. There are two covers here, located together to function as one long case:

fla jan 2013 401

And from the back it is streamlined and simple. The eye just sweeps past it:

fla jan 2013 402

Sometimes simpler solutions appear to be better.




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