London, United Kingdom
Nine new public benches have been unveiled in Cheapside and for the first time, Aldgate, to mark the 2021 edition of the London City Benches’s City Benches competition with Cheapside Business Alliance and Aldgate Connect BID.
Designed by an emerging group of international and interdisciplinary architects and designers, these new benches will enliven the public realm across the City with their bold and imaginative designs, as London begins to welcome visitors, commuters and locals back to its streets this summer.
This year’s collection of benches each offers a fresh new take on bringing people back together post-pandemic, providing a safe and inviting environments for people to meet again and enjoy the apital with a creative approach to the Festival’s 2021 theme of care.
The designs hope to start a conversation on how we can better care for another and our built environment, from telling the forgotten stories of the local area through local landmarks and materials to supporting wellbeing by encouraging interaction and tackling sustainability by challenging views on littering and introducing more planting.
In addition to providing much-needed seating, the benches also encourage passers-by to pause, rest and once again make the most of the City and neighboring Aldgate.
Winning highlights include:
As a tribute to the many inventive ways of occupying public furniture under the pandemic’s social distancing restrictions, “It Takes Two” by 10F introduces a bend to the simple straight bench, creating a seesaw form that encourages dialogue between friends and strangers at either end, while maintaining physical distance.
The bright blue recalls the historic colour of public amenities in the City of London, as found in the decommissioned police phone boxes that are still present in the area. The bench is made from Blue Dapple panels and 100% recyclable materials.
“Quick Getaway” by Ex Architectures with Flu-or Arquitectura highlights travel as a form of care.
“The Quick Getaway” bench creates a holiday inspired oasis in the heart of the city, providing respite and triggering memories.
“The Friendly Blob” by Jelly Collaborative is a proposal that motivates us to take care of not only our physical health but our mental health.
The blob encourages people to meet at a social distance and discover the public spaces that London has to offer.
Taking inspiration from the dense history of the City of London, the bench acts as a miniature of the Square Mile, encouraging visitors to explore and learn about the architecture of the city.
“Monuments to Mingling” by Sohanna Srinivasan in collaboration with Joyce and Joyce Joinery and Christian Spencer-Davies are inspired by Aldgate’s rich architectural history and diverse contemporary identities.
Each bench is a playful fusion of styles and motifs from a range of key community focal points, both past and present, including the East London Mosque, Aldgate pump and the historic Roman gate.
The remixing of these elements hopes to encourage conversations across different communities and age groups. In addition, each bench celebrates a milestone in the government’s roadmap out of lockdown, the dates of which are engraved in Latin, in a nod to the area’s Roman past.
Project: London City Benches
Sponsored by: London Festival of Architecture