Pews and Perches enliven London's Royal Docks for London Festival of Architecture
Tactile papercrete stools and a bench that symbolises rising sea levels are among the seating that has been installed throughout the Royal Docks for the London Festival of Architecture.
The public benches were designed by emerging creatives for Pews and Perches, a competition held by London Festival of Architecture (LFA) with the Royal Docks Team initiative.
Pews and Perches called on up-and-coming architects and designers to create playful benches and enliven public space at the Royal Docks – a riverside industrial district in London.
This year, the seats respond to LFA's theme of "act", which poses questions about how architects should act in the face of global issues such as climate change and social injustice.
"Working on Pews and Perches is an incredibly exciting and rewarding experience as we offer tangible opportunities to emerging architects and designers to work with councils and gain their first real commission," said LFA director Rosa Rogina.
"This year's winning designs are truly impressive, as they all bring a wide range of designs and concepts that embody the LFA 2022 theme of 'act'."
A twisting wooden-metal structure characterises The Turning Tide, which multidisciplinary design group Mvuu created at Thames Barrier Park.
Designed in collaboration with structural engineers Odace and metalworks studio ZedWorks, it is intended to represent change caused by action and is weighed down by stones covered in messages written by the community.
A Cautionary Bench/Mark by architecture firm Andre Kong Studio serves as a comment on rising sea levels. The bench peaks in height at the water level expected during a severe tidal storm in 2030 to highlight the need for urgent climate action.
It was made from reclaimed materials with support from staff and students at the London Design & Engineering University Technical College where it is installed.
Dezeen's James Parkes and designer Fiona Hartley created a modular bench named Gam, which comprises three stools that reference surrounding industrial infrastructure.
Working with manufacturer Made CNC, the bench was created from tactile and layered papercrete cast with wastepaper collected from around Connaught Crossing where it is located.
Rubbish from the Royal Docks was also used to create What-A Water Waste! by architectural assistant Leroy Yuen and creative Gemma Louisa Holdaway at the Royal Victoria Dock Floating Garden.
The bench is wrapped in plastic sheets with a marbled finish, made from high-density polyethylene plastic sourced from the community waste.
It was developed with support from clean-tech startup ReCyrcle, research facility Grymsdyke Farm and design studio Absence from Island to serve as a reminder of the importance of circular design.
Architecture and sibling duo Lo2 created the final bench, Sail-Phone, which is a playful nod to the 20th-century Lightship LV95 vessel moored at Trinity Buoy Wharf.
Created in collaboration with designer Adam Bodnar at Royal Victoria Garden, it has a bright-red finish and incorporates a speaking tube that emulates voicepipes used to communicate on ships.
On Saturday 25 June, LFA is hosting a walking tour of Pews and Perches that will be led by the designers.
The Pews and Perches competition takes a similar shape to the former City Benches competition, which LFA previously held to brighten Aldgate and the Cheapside financial district.
While City Benches did not take place this year, a three-month-long installation named the Mobile Arboretum by multidisciplinary studio Wayward was commissioned in its place.
It comprises a series of barrows and carts that house young plants and nod to the market history of the area. The saplings will eventually be planted in local community gardens.
The winners of last year's City Bench competition included a stone courting bench and a giant teacup.
Other benches featured on Dezeen include a portable social-distancing bench designed by Object Studio to help people in Amsterdam adapt to government guidelines for the coronavirus pandemic.
The photography is by Luke O'Donovan.
London Festival of Architecture takes place from 1 to 30 June 2022. See Dezeen Events Guide for an up-to-date list of architecture and design events taking place around the world.