Manifesto Architecture’s entry to the Seoul 2010 Cycle Design Competition for a rotating vertical bicycle hanger has generated a lot of conversation about form vs. functionality. In many cities bicycles clog up all available sidewalk space and overrun traditional bicycle racks. The Bike Hanger attempts to solve these problems with an innovative new approach.
The design attempts to free up space on the ground by using the under-utilized space on the sides of buildings. In theory, the bicycle hanger takes unwieldy and cluttered bike racks that would be placed on the ground and shifts it to the side of the building. The hanger, composed of recycled steel and plastic, is a rotating rack that hoists the bicycles off the ground and into the air. There is space for around thirty bicycles and the entire assembly is powered by a stationary bicycle operated at the base of the mechanism.
From a purely functional perspective the bike hanger doesn't make a whole lot of sense. The 100,000-dollar estimated cost of one of these racks is exponentially more expensive than a normal bicycle carrel. The mechanism for powering the device, pedaling a stationary bike, promises to be slow and difficult. There are other examples of stacking bicycle racks that do the same job more efficiently and using less energy. Furthermore, what space you would have gained on the ground would be taken up by lines of irascible commuters lining up for their turn to retrieve their cycles.
However I still like the project. While the idea is destined to remain a quirky design, it is still a visually appealing and interesting concept. As envisioned, installed on a building, the bicycle hanger is reminiscent of the kinetic sculptures of Alexander Calder and others. The moving installation brings attention to both the structure it adorns and to the burgeoning cycling and environmental movement.
What do you think is more important in design, form or function?