The London Festival of Architecture (LFA) has launched its latest design contest for a series of £800 public benches in the City of London
The City Benches competition – now in its third year – invites students, emerging architects and designers to draw up proposals for a series of one-off benches which enhance the public realm and visitor experience within the historic Cheapside district.
The project, supported by the Cheapside Business Alliance, will deliver a series of ‘sustainable and imaginative’ benches across the area, suitable for up to two adults, in time for the festival in June 2020. Concepts should encourage users to rest and take note of the landmarks, architecture and open spaces that surround them.
LFA director Tamsie Thomson said: ‘We’re thrilled to once again be working with Cheapside Business Alliance to see the return of the City Benches for 2020.
‘The project sits at the heart of the festival’s mission to champion up-and-coming architects and designers and offers a brilliant opportunity to create a miniature masterpiece in the heart of the City, engaging audiences both in person and on social media, and making a positive difference to people’s experience of Cheapside’s public realm.
‘As the LFA explores “power” in 2020, there’s huge scope for interpretation and I’m really looking forward to seeing how a new round of entries brings the theme and brief to life.’
Alastair Moss, planning and transportation committee chair at the City of London Corporation said: ‘The City Benches competition is a fantastic opportunity for emerging architectural and design talent to showcase their vision in the heart of the Square Mile.
‘We are committed to delivering a world-class public realm and this project will play an important role in engaging workers, residents and visitors in their surroundings.’
The City of London is the capital’s historic financial centre and home to many of its tallest and most iconic buildings. The area, which hosts hundreds of pocket parks and art installations, has been a key focus of recent LFAs.
The latest competition comes a year after the LFA hosted a similar contest focusing on Cheapside and two years after an earlier contest in the City’s Eastern Cluster. Last year’s winners included the dog-inspired ‘Whippet Good’ (pictured) by Delve Architects
Delve director Alex Raher said: ‘Being selected to design a bench for the LFA this year was exciting for us as a practice. It gave us the opportunity to push our design and fabrication skills to create something fun and unique for the City of London.
‘The whippet’s sleeping form has a sense of calmness to it, and the perfect qualities to soothe the anxious minds of those working in Cheapside. The finished piece represents to us how playful design can improve public space, and encourage more interaction and mindfulness together in the city.’
Applications for the latest City Benches contest should include a team photo and brief biographies of team members along with a 200-word practice description and a hand or computer-drawn 3D visualisation.
Judges include Thomson; the rector of nearby St Mary-le-Bow Church George Bush; Dieter Kleiner, director of RCKa Architects; and Clarisse Tavin, group manager for major programmes and projects at the City of London Corporation.
The deadline for applications is midday, 16 January.
How to apply
Visit the competition website for more information