Telephone booths are abandoned by city dwellers while park benches remain popular.

“Every year, the telephone booth becomes more and more obsolete. In 2016, more than 8,000 of the 54,000 remaining public telephones in Canada - a CRTC estimate - will be retired ”.

Source: HuffingtonPost

Urban objects such as public benches, telephone booths, garbage cans and bus shelters are sometimes part of the collective heritage. Many are still essential to the proper functioning of the city and others must evolve to better meet the needs of consumers.

The next activities will allow students to familiarize themselves with different urban objects that have become obsolete over the years and how cities have transformed others to evolve with the townspeople of 2016.


At the end of the activities, the student will be able to:

- Explain the origin of telephone booths and public benches;
- Compare different ways in which bus shelters have been adapted over the years;
- Understand the reasons for the decline of telephone booths;
- Name the way in which urban objects are recycled or recovered;
- Take a stand on the privatization of public benches.

Suggested Activities

ACTIVITY 1: Telephone booths

Ask students if they have ever used or seen a phone booth. Ask if they can name any public places where there are phone booths. Do they know how much a phone call costs? Why have they disappeared over the years? Is it so everywhere? Etc.

Then browse this item which tells how the city of New York replaces the old telephone booths in wifi terminals.

Present this item so that students can familiarize themselves with the different ways in which telephone boxes have been collected for city dwellers in large cities. Distribute this listening grid so that the pupils can record their new discoveries in connection with the telephone booths.

ACTIVITY 2: Park benches

Begin this activity by asking students if they have access to a public bench when they need it. Where do they see them most often and in greatest numbers? Are they necessary and essential in cities? Etc.

Continue by exploring this phone book various public benches in several large cities mainly located in France and Quebec. Here you will find public benches all over the world.

Present this video presenting the privatization of a public bench. Users have to pay to use it. This idea of hostile furniture was provided with peaks, only became comfortable when a little change was inserted.

Ask the students about the consequences of putting such paid benches in a green and public environment.

Hold a class debate to educate students about the community implications of such business ideas.

ACTIVITY 3: Technological bus shelters

Begin this activity by asking students if they can describe a bus shelter. Do they use this type of shelter? What would be useful to have in these bus shelters? Etc.
Continue this activity by presenting this cuff presenting unusual ways of occupying the waiting time in bus shelters. Browse the gallery photos of the most unusual bus shelters in the world.

Present this video produced by Pepsi which turns the streets into a sci-fi movie.
Distribute this consignment grid so that the pupils can note the different special effects used in this advertising campaign. Have them select and describe three scenes from the advertisement of Pepsi and make a sketch.

For further

Consult the various publications of the Bell Pay Phone Project which offers to show the Canadian urban landscape through photos of cabins and public telephones.
Realize the timeline of the history of telephone booths from these data.

More about the magazine

Telephone booth: their announced end causes discontent
BFMTV, May 3, 2015

The hidden face of urban objects: Should we resuscitate telephone booths?
Huffington Post, March 12, 2016

Bus shelters: unusual ways to occupy those who are waiting
Huffington Post, March 25, 2016

The hidden face of urban objects
Huffington Post, Report Series