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Network Rail station seating winning designs revealed

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Five winning designs have been unveiled in a competition to create a series of benches at some of London’s most famous train stations

The London Festival of Architecture (LFA) and Network Rail-backed contest sought engaging and imaginative seating proposals that would help re-energise under-used public space within Waterloo, Victoria, Charing Cross and London Bridge.

It was open to architecture and design students, recent graduates and emerging practitioners.

The winning teams were picked from 70 entrants and will each receive £5,000 to develop and manufacture their designs, which will be installed as soon as it is possible to do so.

The competition judges included Network Rail principal architect Frank Anatole, LFA director Tamsie Thomson and AJ managing editor Will Hurst.

Thomson said: ‘I’m really looking forward to seeing the benches in position. Thanks to Network Rail, we’ve been able to give a fine cohort of emerging architecture and design talent an exceptional platform – if you’ll pardon the pun.’

Hurst added:  ‘Those selected stood out on the grounds of imagination, sustainability and practicality, with the successful teams having largely anticipated challenges put forward by the judging panel and potential pitfalls in use.

‘These five designs aim not only to provide a place to sit and pause in the frenetic environment of a train station but to engage and delight the public. Some of them are fun, some are beautiful, and some ask searching questions about how we should make things in this new decade.’

Network Rail has said the best designs from the Sitting Pretty competition may be replicated at stations across the UK. 

Judges

  • Frank Anatole, principal architect, Network Rail
  • Anthony Dewar, professional head, buildings and architecture, safety, technical and engineering, Network Rail
  • Will Hurst, managing editor, The Architects’ Journal
  • Tamsie Thomson, director, London Festival of Architecture
  • Paul Priestman, director, PriestmanGoode

The five winning designs

1.beluga by hylemo & ai build

Beluga by Hylemo & Ai Build

Beluga by Hylemo & Ai Build

Beluga by Hylemo & Ai Build

From catwalks to festivals, Hylemo specialises in the production of parametric pavilions delivered through digital fabrication. Now working in collaboration with Ai Build – developers of 3D printing technology driven by robotic arms – it wishes to challenge the way furniture in the public domain is produced; reducing material waste to zero and engaging in the circular economy of materials.

Through the boundless opportunity of forms offered by additive manufacturing, Hylemo & Ai Build has created a bench that turns seating into an experience of art.

2.convostation by the united suburb

ConvoStation by The United Suburbs

ConvoStation by The United Suburbs

ConvoStation by The United Suburbs

ConvoStation is a brightly coloured communal rocking chair, intended to bring strangers together in today’s ever-moving and ever-busy lifestyles.

The design incites a conversation between strangers, generates awareness of people’s surroundings through motion, and opens the opportunity for new friendships and chance encounters.
ConvoStation is supported by Universal Spraying

3.lacuna by nick tyrer with victoria philpott

Lacuna by Nick Tyrer with Victoria Philpott

Lacuna by Nick Tyrer with Victoria Philpott

Lacuna by Nick Tyrer with Victoria Philpott

Nick Tyrer and Victoria Philpott have brought together seating and striking planting through a design that offers a spatial experience while remaining functional and comfortable.

Lacuna offers a sense of security and personal space on a large station concourse, while also creating a much larger visual impact upon the identity of the station.
Lacuna is supported by James Lathams and Garnica, and fabricated by Raskl

4.reclaim, re invent, re purpose by atelier la juntana

Reclaim, Re-invent, Re-purpose by Atelier La Juntana

Reclaim, Re-invent, Re-purpose by Atelier La Juntana

Reclaim, Re-invent, Re-purpose by Atelier La Juntana

Looking to highlight the new role of railways and stations in urban regeneration – not just as transition points, but destinations – the proposal takes inspiration from the complex yet powerful spatial encounters between railway lines and the urban fabric of stations and the city.

The design treats reclaimed timber track sleepers with steam bending and digital CNC forming techniques, creating geometries that reinterpret the network infrastructure and raise awareness of the importance of repurposing and reinventing in railway stations of the future. The modular and adaptable design can be expanded to create multiple configurations inspired by different infrastructure settings.
Reclaim, Re-invent, Re-purpose is supported by Shadbolt, University of East London and Kohn Pedersen Fox

5.sitting on london’s clay by local collective studio

Sitting on London’s Clay by Local Collective Studio

Sitting on London’s Clay by Local Collective Studio

Sitting on London’s Clay by Local Collective Studio

Local Collective’s seating uses London’s clay – a natural material found beneath Londoners’ feet. The modular system offers different sizes and proportions tailored to different activities, from social interactions to more private working or relaxation.

The bench’s materiality offers an installation that is sustainable and breathable, and one that improves indoor air quality thanks to clay’s ability to absorb indoor humidity and toxins. 

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