Thursday, 16 October 2014


Urban Benches: 8 Innovations in City Street Seats
By Hayley Arsenault,
Architizer, 13 October 2014.

The habitually unheeded function of the humble city bench has been transformed; the purely practical purpose of this breed of public furniture has been entirely rethought in the distinguished designs below, which offer more than just a spot for rest and repose within the everyday bustle of the urban realm. From open-air reading rooms to interactive street seats, these designs foster the growth of the renewed functionality of out-dated public structures with the capacity to fuse with the pre-existing landscape and enhance the public experience of their role.

1. Zipper Bench by WXY Architecture + Urban Design


The Zipper Bench by WXY Architecture + Urban Design offers a conceptual facilitation of social engagement and interaction. Tailoring its design around the contours of Battery Park, the gently curving long metal structures weave throughout the plaza, their shape and size conforming to the shifting elements of the surrounding urban landscape.


The bespoke elements of its design are broken down into various components spread across the civic space, each one acting as a distinct part within the urban whole.

2. Faux Pli by archinauten dworschak+mühlbachler architekten


The alcove-shaped Faux Pli bench by archinauten dworschak+mühlbachler architekten not only offers esplanade pedestrians a sheltered respite but also a panorama view of the adjacent lake.


The designs for this urban furbishing consist of precast elements in architectural concrete material with stone characteristics, as well as an underside source of indirect lighting able to illuminate the bench and the surrounding vicinity at night.

3. UNI by Höweler + Yoon Architecture LLP


The urban reprieve of the open-air reading room developed for The UNI Project by Höweler + Yoon Architecture LLP, accommodates the vastly unique qualities of the numerous New York City neighbourhoods that it inhabits.


Taking up temporary residence across the city, the reconfigurable and portable nature of its design allows the project to transform a civic space into an arena for fostering the social agenda through public lectures, workshops, and readings.

4. Street Seats by FANTASTICA


These locally built and sustainably sourced Brooklyn benches by FANTASTICA offer additional seating options in the downtown area of the borough. Ideally situated for people watching and community gatherings, these sidewalk-facing seats seek to promote social interaction within the community.


They are constructed of FSC Certified eucalyptus wood and were built by the Brooklyn Navy Yard based builder Bien Hecho. The benches are designed to be modular, with the intention of eventually going in different locations within the area.

5. h2o Bench by H20 Architectes


Conceived as a component of an entry for an urban design competition, the h20 Bench by H20 Architectes boasts the potential for user appropriation and encourages the modification of its structure to adapt to varying activities.


The design of this bench tackles the issue of the persistently controlled nature of urban social spaces, leveraging the power of the individual within the city. Divorcing itself from pre-conceived notions of the standards for form and function of a bench, the imaginative design of this structure is based on research which implores the benefits of flexibility and additive qualities in urban design.

6. BU(S)TOP by FORMS Team


Combining the natural elements of nature, wood, and water, the concrete street seat of this BU(S)TOP design by FORMS Team evokes the qualities of a flowing body of water as it infiltrates the wooden beams of the sloping roof structure that envelops it.


Reflecting the transience of modern city life, the environmentally friendly structure also adjusts to the particular dimensions of sidewalk it occupies. The straight lines of its delineated design adapt to the environmental features of the surrounding landscape, allowing for trees and other natural forms to enhance the aesthetic of this sheltered urban bench.

7. The Playful Bench by MAPT


Passersby of Copenhagen’s interactive bench will stumble upon the interactive playground-adjacent perch, which changes colour in a spirited poetic pattern. The Playful Bench by MAPT (in collaboration with designer Sune Petersen) offers the opportunities for civic engagement through its interactive games, which allow you to change the colours of the bench through the movement of your hands.


The communicative qualities of this alluring urban form interact with city dwellers, inciting an element of folly into the routine nature of urban furniture.

8. The Uiliuili Bench by Piotr Żuraw


The intriguing aesthetic achieved in the design of this undulating bench, by Polish architect Piotr Żuraw, is of unconventional shape and form, thus inciting alternative modes of behaviour.


Located within the University of Wroclaw’s campus, the winding silhouette encourages student bystanders to use their individual creativity to decide how to sit, lie down, stretch, climb, jump, and more. Arranged in the vicinity of the university’s minimalist library building, the bench invites attention but does not overshadow the design of the campus.

All images via Architizer and The University of Wroclaw.

Top image: The Uiliuili Bench, via University of Wroclaw.

[Source: Architizer. Edited. Top image and some links added.]

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