Max Lamb, Scholten & Baijings and Philippe Malouin create "Superbenches" for suburban Stockholm park
A bench with springs for legs and a brutalist concrete structure are among the 10 experimental pieces of public furniture created by international designers to help regenerate a park area just outside of Stockholm, Sweden.
Participating designers were asked to reconsider the concept of the traditional park bench while retaining its sole function of providing an urban meeting place to sit or relax.
Curated by German-born New-York-based Felix Burrichter, founder of Pin Up magazine, the designs, named "Superbenches" were unveiled last weekend.
While some are upgrades of existing benches in the Kvarnbacken park, others are entirely new designs. Every Superbench has the potential to become a permanent fixture in the park, but only if it is appreciated and used by locals in the area.
The Superbenches have been installed as part of the Kalejdohill project - a two year initiative that aims to regenerate Kvarnbacken, a park in the suburb in Järfälla that is at the heart of a new housing development.
With the aim of creating a meeting place in the period before the new houses are built, the project has been developed in a public-private partnership with Swedish developers HSB, Norra, and Stor-Stockholm.
"Kalejdohill is a unique project that uses the park as a community incubator for a new, diverse neighbourhood," explains curator Felix Burrichter. "The Superbenches are an important part of this process. Realised by a group of designers with very diverse backgrounds, each one proposes a distinct bench typology."
A YouTube video of an overweight man in a tie-dyed t-shirt bobbing back and forth on a kid's playground springer inspired London-based practice Soft Baroque to create a playful two-seater bench mounted on springs.
Drawing inspiration from the local topography, Canadian-born London-based designer Philippe Malouin used natural aggregates to create a towering pavilion that functions as an outdoor meeting place.
The monolithic, cylindrical structure features three elliptical openings where locals can sit and relax.
Designers Märta Hägglund & Sanna Gripner created Cushy, a two-seater sofa and matching armchair made from purple metal mesh.
Conceived as an "exterior living room", the duo wanted to translate the aesthetic and comfort of traditional upholstered sofas and armchairs into public outdoor seating.
"Our work is based on the round shapes and fluffiness of cushions to make it look comfortable and welcoming," say the designers. "With this design we hope that the people of Järfälla will experience a homely and welcoming atmosphere in the park."
More discreet interpretations included Max Lamb's Superbench. Using a CNC mandrel bending machine, Lamb fashioned a zigzagging design out of a length of simple stainless-steel tube that is bent six times at 90 degrees in alternating directions.
"101.6 OD 305 CLR" is like a piece of street furniture," says Lamb. "Ubiquitous, substantial, utilitarian, familiar, ambiguous, unnoticed."
Meanwhile, Dutch design studio Scholten & Baijings applied its distinctive use of colour and pattern to five existing benches on the site.
"Opaque and translucent layers of colour are applied to the benches to create a dialogue with the colours of the surrounding area," explain the designers. "The gradient effect created by placing colours side by side not only creates a unique pattern in itself, but ties in with the following bench to create a continuous flow of colour throughout the area."
The Primordial bench by Milanese architect Luca Cipelletti is made of Shit Bricks – bricks made from a sustainable clay-composite of processed, odourless cow dung. Formed as an L-shape, Cipelletti's five Giga Shit Bricks are carefully arranged to resemble the corner of an archaeological ruin.
A curved aluminium bench by LA designer Jonathan Olivares has been placed adjacent to a pair of redesigned boule courts that have been upgraded with concrete.
Other designs include a cluster of simple folded seating by New York-based Leon Ransmeier and a curved steel plate shelter by London architect Ifeanyi Oganwu.
Other examples of parks by well-known designers and architects include the colorful grass and rubber park created by BIG in the socially challenged Nørrebro neighbourhood of Copenhagen. Filled with miscellaneous street furniture from 60 different nations, the park was designed to represent the nationalities of every local resident.
Meanwhile, OMA and landscape architects Mia Lehrer + Associates (MLA) are in the process of creating a park that will transform a site in the Downtown area of Los Angeles, and landscape architecture firm James Corner Field Operations are creating a public park for the site of the former Domino Sugar Factory on the Brooklyn waterfront. Designed as part of a major redevelopment project in the area, the park is slated to open in 2018.