The design team contemplated what the common bench has become, and realized that static, uniform bench designs do not reflect the urban spaces they inhabit, nor the users they support. While our parks, streets, and plazas have evolved into dynamic, flexible, and lively urban places, our benches have remained fixed in the past.
“Benches … are not so good for sitting. There are too few of them; they are too small; they are often isolated from other benches or whatever action is on the plaza. Worse yet, architects tend to repeat the same module in plaza after plaza, unaware that it didn’t work very well in the first place....(architects) do worst when they freeze their bench designs in concrete permanence.”
-William Whyte. ‘the Social life of small urban spaces’
The design team addressed these notions and other concerns, which have become seemingly status quo. This solution is more than a seat. It is a catalyst for human interaction and more seamless connections. Its flexibility creates a fluid object that never rests. moreBENCH is five benches in one. These benches dance around a central axis to create an ever-changing environment for entire groups of users. Just as landscaping brings variety and color into its context, morebench brings life and vibrancy to its surroundings.
moreBENCH is a series of stacked benches, each made of a standard bar stock frame with varying surface materials. These overlapping benches are united by a central pin, which they freely rotate around. This allows for various configurations, from a condensed stack to full extension. Each layer was strategically sized with heights varying from 18 to 30 inches. These specific dimensions provide surfaces to serve as everything from seating to table tops.
From the onset, the team designed with fabrication and durability in mind. The repeated frame is built of steel bar stock for its availability, workability, and strength. The frame, bent and welded, wraps around the central steel pipe. Washers, welded to that structural pipe, separate the bench layers, creating a simple pinned hinge. Powder coating the steel not only provides additional weather resistance, but inserts opportunities for colorful highlights and expressions within the design. This iteration uses an exterior white powder coating, with magenta accents on the underside and central post.
The surfaces are designed as an open canvas, to which local, repurposed, or sustainable finishes can be applied. Each variation of moreBENCH should reflect the culture and characteristics of its host city. By the physical action of rotating each layer, the public increases awareness for the materiality of each unique iteration. This intimate touch not only brings the public closer to the bench, but deepens their connection with the city itself.
The team for moreBENCH is intimately involved with the creative process each and every day. As designers at a multi-disciplinary architecture and interiors firm, the team includes four individuals specializing in the fields of architecture, interior, industrial, and brand design. This blended perspective allowed the team to combat this particular design problem, through the lens of each individual’s viewpoint, all at once. Sharing different backgrounds, but a similar goal, the team was able to come together to create moreBENCH. Though young in their respective fields, these designers believe in the power of design and hope that moreBENCH will facilitate conversation about outside-the-box thinking.