City Benches Competition


The LFA and the Cheapside Business Alliance have announced the return of City Benches – a design competition for a series of one-off public benches to be installed in the public realm of Cheapside in the City of London, in time for the London Festival of Architecture which runs from 1-30 June 2019.

Architecture and design students, recent graduates and emerging practices are invited to submit a design proposal for a bench that will transform the public realm of Cheapside as a place to sit and rest amidst the bustle of the City. The project will bring new architectural and design talent to hundreds of thousands of people, and is intended to create public furniture fit for a festival.

Entries will be judged by an expert panel comprising:

  • Anne O’Neil (chair, Cheapside Business Alliance)
  • Tanya Parkin (associate director, Eric Parry Architects)
  • Ellie Stathaki (architecture editor, Wallpaper*)
  • Tamsie Thomson (director, London Festival of Architecture)

Winners will be awarded £800 to create each bench ahead of the London Festival of Architecture 2019.

Please see full competition brief for more information (pdf)

Deadline for submission is Midday, Thursday 21 February 2019.

Submissions must be made via the link below


In 2018 the City Benches saw a hugely popular series of new public benches installed across Cheapside and the City of London, including a colourful installation in Bow Church Yard by Maria Gasparian Studio. For Maria Gasparian, the competition led to increased exposure (including being shortlisted for the Brick Awards 2018) and the opportunity for her work to be seen by a huge public audience. She said:


Maria Gasparian said:

“Taking part in the City Benches competition gave me an amazing opportunity to create a piece of street furniture in central London which was visited by thousands of people during the London Festival of Architecture. The LFA were incredibly supportive, and this experience contributed greatly to the development of my professional practice.”


Tamsie Thomson, director of the London Festival of Architecture said:

“I’m delighted that our City Benches project is returning to Cheapside – an area of the City that is full of iconic buildings and open spaces. As the LFA explores ‘boundaries’ in 2019, City Benches will hopefully get people thinking – for instance about boundaries between personal space and the public realm – as well as showcasing emerging architecture and design talent to a huge public audience. I’m grateful that the Cheapside Business Alliance share our vision, and can’t wait to see a diverse range of entries.”


Anne O’Neill, Chair of Cheapside Business Alliance said:

“Cheapside is evolving into a leading London destination for business and leisure, and we are delighted to be working with the London Festival of Architecture to showcase this fantastic part of the Square Mile. The City Benches competition is a wonderful opportunity for us to showcase Cheapside, to support emerging talent, and to encourage people to linger and enjoy a fascinating area within the City of London.”

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