Dezeen Magazine

Nine benches created by young designers enliven London

A gravestone dedicated to a deceased dachsund and an undulating strip of bright yellow rubber are two of nine imaginative public benches unveiled as part of this year's London Festival of Architecture.

Designed in response to an open call for benches to enliven the public realm, the nine benches are designed by architecture and design students, recent graduates, and emerging practices from across London.

The benches are installed across the City of London and London Bridge, which are both focus areas for this year's London Festival of Architecture, which Dezeen is media partner for.

London Festival of Architecture City Benches
Nicholas Kirk Architects designed one of nine benches that are currently installed in London as part of the London Festival of Architecture

Nicholas Kirk Architects stacked 45,000 penny coins to form the three monolithic plinths that support the timber seat of the Money Box bench.

Placed outside of London Bridge Station the bench is designed to challenge the public's perception of physical currency during uncertain economic times.

London Festival of Architecture City Benches
Money Box bench is constructed from 45,000 coins

"Over the centuries, traders, manufacturers, workers and business people of all descriptions have used London Bridge as a gateway to the City," said Nadia Broccardo, executive director Team London Bridge.

"Under the gaze of the striking new London Bridge station, The Money Box bench marks a place where journeys are started and finished, and where hundreds of thousands of people travel to daily to earn a living."

London Festival of Architecture City Benches
Patrick McEvoy's gravestone bench is installed in Jubilee Gardens

A stone bench designed by architectural assistant Patrick McEvoy, in memory of a dog called Geoffrey Barkington, has been installed in Jubilee Gardens in Houndsditch.

Houndsditch marks the route of a Roman ditch outside part of the London Wall, which was known for the disposal of deceased dogs. Several dog skeletons were discovered here in 1989 during construction works.

The stone bench, which weighs one tonne and features a cut-out silhouette of a dachshund, was made by Solid Geometry, Tarmac, Kilnbridge, the University of Westminster and Prewett Bizley Architects.

London Festival of Architecture City Benches
Studio Yu and Tomos Design created a bench based on the rock formation at Giant's Causeway

Based upon the majestic natural rock formations of the Giant's Causeway in Northern Ireland, a bench by Studio Yu and Tomos Design is made from stacked hexagonal blocks of recycled plastic terrazzo that form both seats and planters.

Located in the City's Bloomberg Arcade, The modular blocks can be incorporated into different configurations to suit the needs of different spaces.

London Festival of Architecture City Benches
Installed at One New Change, A Bench for Everyone is constructed from yellow rubber

Called A Bench for Everyone, an undulating yellow rubber bench by young practice McCloy + Muchemwa is designed to evoke memories of the much-loved comforts of home furniture. The practice said its folded shape could be "reminiscent of your comfy sofa where you cuddled up with a beloved dog, or birthday parties in the dining room, or even the naughty step."

The design, which is installed inside One New Change, is made from studded rubber on a plywood frame that could be extended to create a longer bench.

London Festival of Architecture City Benches
City Benchmark takes is cues from the graphs at the stock exchange

Elena Boni and Studioort's City Benchmark benches takes their design cues from the graphic language of stock charts.

Installed in Creechurch Place, the two benches are made up of a staggered series of green and red panels that reference the nearby London Stock Exchange and the undulating graphs of green and red bars used to track profit and loss.

London Festival of Architecture City Benches
Mills Turner's bench is dry constructed, with timber forms held together on steel bars

In Fen Court, young practice Mills Turner installed Double bench, a seat made from a series of repeatable timber curves that are threaded onto steel bars and screwed tightly together at each end. The curved form is designed to fit to the curve of the body when sitting.

The dry-construction technique makes the bench easy to assemble and dismantle and allows it to be flat-packed with ease.

London Festival of Architecture City Benches
Ceramic City Bench is made from standard bricks that have been glazed and coloured

Architect Maria Gasparian worked with contractor Swift Brickwork to create the Ceramic City Bench installed in Bow Church Yard.

Constructed from standard clay bricks that have been crafted, glazed and stacked to create various heights, the colours and patterns of the bench are designed to reflect the history of the area as a longstanding place for trade, exchange and religious diversity.

London Festival of Architecture City Benches
Eleanor Dodman Architects' bench is a mix of seating and plant holders

Eight platforms of differing heights make up The Garden Bench by Eleanor Dodman Architects. Installed at 150 Cheapside, the platforms function as a mix of seating and planters for camomile, lavender and thyme.

The Garden Bench pays tribute to the City of London's long history of courtyard gardens , which include Postman's Park and the Cleary Garden.

Standing in front of the Royal Exchange, Mariya Lapteva, an architectural assistant at London-based studio Architecture Initiative has designed the City Ghosts bench.

The bench features cast panels depicting streetscapes and buildings from the surrounding area, including East India House and the shopfronts along Leadenhall Street, that have been demolished.

London Festival of Architecture City Benches
Mariya Lapteva's City Ghosts bench features facades of buildings that have been demolished

"For the London Festival of Architecture – with our mission to change London for the better and support its emerging creative talent, City Benches is the perfect project," said Tamsie Thomson, director of the London Festival of Architecture.

"The new installations demonstrate how small-scale interventions, in the hands of talented architects and designers, can make a big difference the city around us and will be enjoyed by hundreds of thousands of people," she added

In a similar project last year, ten designers including Max Lamb, Scholten & Baijings and Philippe Malouin each created a "Superbench" to help regenerate a park area just outside of Stockholm, Sweden. The 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.

Photography is by Agnese Sanvito.