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Competition: Pews & Perches, Royal Docks

Zombie Bench by George King Architects
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The London Festival of Architecture has launched a contest to design a series of £1,500 benches across the Royal Docks in London’s East End

The Pews & Perches competition seeks proposals for a ‘fun and creative place to sit, rest and play’ which could be installed in the regeneration zone this autumn. It is open to architecture and design students, recent graduates and emerging professionals. 

Winning teams will receive £1,500 each to manufacture and install their scheme in the district, which is tipped for £314 million worth of regeneration over the coming years. Judges will include LFA director Tamsie Thompson, Dan Bridge of the Royal Docks Team and David Ogunmuyiwa, principal at ArchitectureDoingPlace.

Thompson said: ‘We’re delighted to be continuing our partnership with the Royal Docks Team with this exciting project and are grateful to the team for their support in helping the LFA shape its year-round presence.

‘Harnessing incredible emerging architecture and design talent is at the heart of what the festival aims to do, and I can’t wait to see the diverse range of ideas to enliven the waterfront in one of London’s most fascinating new quarters.’

The Royal Docks and surrounding area were constructed in the 1850s, and abandoned just over a century later. They have long been tipped as London’s next major regeneration opportunity. In 2012 the 170ha of land and 96ha of water was transformed into an enterprise zone, promoting a range of schemes including plans for a floating residential village.

Local landmarks include WilkinsonEyre’s base for Siemens, dubbed ‘The Crystal’; the Excel exhibition centre, which was expanded by Grimshaw in 2010; and the competition-winning Royal Victoria Dock Bridge by Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands.

Planned developments in the area include a £1 billion Royal Albert Dock, masterplanned and designed by Terry Farrell with second-stage concepts by BuckleyGreyYeoman, Fletcher Priest, Cartwright Pickard, Maccreanor Lavington and Panter Hudspith.

Fletcher Priest Architects’ £3.5 billion regeneration of Silvertown Quays also won planning in 2015.

The call for entries comes six years after George King Architects won an earlier contest for a new seating structure at the Royal Docks’ 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.’

LFA’s separate City Benches contest, now in its second year, saw emerging London practices Anna Janiak Studio, Astrain Studio and Delve Architects; artists Sarah Emily Porter and James Trundle; and architect Armor Gutiérrez Rivas deliver a series of £800 benches across the Square Mile last month.

The winning Pews & Perches schemes will be constructed and installed in October. The call for participants is supported by the Royal Docks Team. The deadline for applications is midday, 2 September. 

How to apply

Visit the competition website for more information

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