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Competition: City Benches

Zombie Bench by George King Architects
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The London Festival of Architecture has launched a design contest for a series of £800 public benches in the City of London

Open to architecture and design students, recent graduates and emerging practices from across London, the competition seeks proposals for a number of one-off benches which enhance the public realm and visitor experience within the historic district’s Eastern City Cluster.

The City Benches project, supported by the City of London Corporation, aims to boost pedestrian growth within the area around Bank Station and encourage new places to rest and enjoy. The winning schemes will be constructed within the Eastern City Cluster during this year’s LFA in June.

The benches will be placed at Cunard Place, Jubilee Gardens, Fen Court, and two on Creechurch Lane. Proposals must be safe and durable, seat a minimum of two people and be deliverable within the £800 budget.

The launch comes a week after the LFA announced that the ‘modern maypole’ planned for this year’s festival was being put on hold owing to lack of funding. The competition-winning design by Alex-Scott Whitby and Mark Whitby was to have been built on London’s Strand.

LFA director Tamsie Thomson said: ‘City Benches is a fantastic project that will not only enhance one of the City’s most architecturally exciting districts, but will help the London Festival of Architecture showcase the capital’s brilliant emerging architecture and design talent. We’re very grateful to the City of London Corporation for sharing that vision with us, and for giving emerging talent such a prominent and public springboard.’

City of London Corporation planning and transportation committee chairman Chris Hayward said: ‘The City has evolved for nearly 2,000 years so upgrading our public realm offer is an ongoing priority.

‘The City is growing rapidly with 1.37 million m² of office space under construction, which has the potential to accommodate 85,000 workers. The Bank area is one of London’s most iconic junctions and 60 per cent of the City’s growth is expected to be delivered in the eastern cluster.

‘Projects such as the City Benches competition will provide young talent with the opportunity to be a part of that evolution and help the City remain an exceptional place to live, work and visit.’

The City of London, also known as the Square Mile, is the historic financial centre of the capital and home to many of its tallest and most iconic buildings. The area, which hosts hundreds of pocket parks and art installations, will be a key focus of this year’s LFA.

The call for entries comes five years after George King Architects won an earlier contest for a new seating structure at the former London Pleasure Grounds with his Zombie Bench (pictured).

Principal George King said: ‘Zombie Bench was my first competition win and was the perfect opportunity to design something on a scale that was fun and experimental, yet buildable and functional. It allowed me to think about the qualities I am interested in as an architect and distil them into a small object which still provokes debate to this day.’

Applications for the 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, GLA senior project officer Pooja Agrawal, Make Architects partner Katy Ghahremani, and City Public Realm assistant director Simon Glynn.

The deadline for entries is midday, 19 April.

How to apply

Visit the competition website for more information

Contact details

Email: rosa@londonfestivalofarchitecture.org

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