The Mayor’s call for more benches in Faversham presents designers with a wonderful opportunity to create a bench that is fit for purpose at the heart of an ancient and forward-looking town.
What might the brief for this bench include? I suggest the bench needs to be:
- beautiful – an object that is a pleasure to look at and that fits harmoniously within the historic fabric of the town centre
- robust – able to stand up to wear and tear, not only from occasional anti-social abuse but also from frequent pro-social use, and of course from the weather
- useful – certainly a place to sit on but perhaps also an object to lean on while pausing to catch your breath; a bench that can be moved easily to accommodate the needs of the market and special occasions such as the Hop Festival.
Such demands are not unusual. Fortunately for Faversham the world is full of good examples that we can learn from.
These benches in London include planters and can be moved around to suit needs:
In Central Square, Cambridge MA this bench incorporates technology that captures the power of the sun and provides a charging point for mobile phones:
Next steps for technology will be to use solar power to create a local wifi network and to power LED lighting.
In Harvard Yard, Cambridge MA, colourful seats (first seen in the Jardin de Luxembourg in Paris) have been placed in a historic public setting. The seats can be moved around by people to suit personal preferences – a quiet read or a public conversation:
These are just a few examples of what is possible. What does it mean for the future of Faversham’s benches?