Turning waste into wonder

Turning waste into wonder – come and put our new sustainable public seating to the test!

We’d love you to take a proud perch on the new waste-to-wonder beauties that have just been unveiled in our public spaces. Not content with regular seating that does nothing to save our planet, we’ve spent a considerable amount of time working with local design company Pedersen + Lennard to deliver a solution that upcycles plastic waste into funky furniture, putting a lot of fun into fun-ctional!

‘When we invite families to use our spaces, we really mean the whole family!’ says our Placemaking Specialist Karla De La Bat. The new and aptly named Transformer range of furniture is certainly family-fit – whether you’re a family of one or an extended gathering, it can adapt easily to your needs.

Transformer comes as a collection of simple units that can respond interpretively to a variety of spaces and uses. Depending on how the units are used and combined, and at what height, they can serve a variety of functions, from amphitheatre seating to gorgeous bistro-style table-and-chair combinations, including those that are comfortable for children, and for people in wheelchairs. There’s a chair for everyone and everywhere…

And precisely where can you find these amazing new seats? Head for the transformed and re-energised Alfred & UCB Plaza in and around the historic Union Castle Building in the Quays District. These gorgeous people-first public places, with their inviting planters and soft landscaping, have been set up just for you, so that you can unwind from shopping, enjoy lunch or sundowners, people-watch, or simply take in all the amazing views.

“People-first places to sit and rest at the V&A Waterfront say all that needs to be said about the commitment of this top tourist destination to its visitors: people who come and spend time at the V&A Waterfront are worth beautiful public spaces created with responsible choices that preserve the earth,” says Tinyiko Mageza, the executive head of marketing.


Indeed! This planet-friendly furniture collection represents our dedication to facilitating positive social interaction and sustainability, and is one part of a larger commitment to creating high-quality, inviting public amenities. Simply put, we put you – and Mother Earth – first.

Sustainability, circularity and experimentation aren’t buzzwords to us – here they are evident in the durable stainless steel and recycled plastic materials that were used for the pieces. We also pushed the boundaries when it came to testing safe alternatives to replace conventional materials, plus, we took a big step by using the busy V&A Waterfront as a place to try out these innovations.

‘While it may not be easy or feasible for everyone to always make sustainable choices, when the opportunity arises, we should. We were able to make a choice towards sustainability, so we did!’ says De La Bat.

To make this furniture, plastic waste and hard-to-recycle plastics are chipped, heated and compressed into plastic boards that are subsequently moulded into the furniture pieces. The Transformer pieces are made at Pedersen + Lennard in Maitland, just 10km down the road from us. It was important for us to work with a South African company, such as the one founded by Luke Pedersen and James Lennard in 2008, because of our serious commitment to working with the local creative community.


‘We love the innovation behind this recycled plastic, as it has created the unique opportunity of using a variety of plastic types all in one board,’ Pedersen says. ‘Each furniture piece is made from all kinds of things, like toothpaste tubes, packaging, signage, etc, and given a new life.’

The finished products also have a unique terrazzo-esque aesthetic – one of the biggest decor trends in recent years – thanks to the different chips of plastic. An added plus for the designers is that the properties of the recycled-plastic material allowed them a number of design solutions not available with traditional materials such as timber and sheet metal.


Over time, we’ll be adding more and more Transformer pieces to different locations at the V&A. Ultimately, the aim is to upcycle the plastic that comes from our own waste-handling facility, in this way creating an ever more and more circular economy.

Wanna sit down and talk about it? We know just the place!