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Competition shortlist: ‘Sitting Pretty’

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LFA and Network Rail have announced the design teams shortlisted to develop a new take on station seating, to brighten the experience of Londoners, commuters and visitors in some of London’s largest train stations, in time for the Festival’s return to the capital in June 2020.

Architecture and design students, recent graduates and emerging practitioners were invited to consider engaging and imaginative seating solutions that can add value to and maximise the possibilities of the under-used public space within stations. With the opportunity to completely transform how passengers sit and wait for their trains, the competition seeks to inform a prototype for how a future of station seating might look, with the potential for winning ideas to be replicated across stations by Network Rail in the future.


Ten teams and individual designers overcame competition from 70 entrants to make the shortlist, which consists of:


Atelier La Juntana

Armor is an architect, researcher and maker, working and living in London, interested in how new fabrication techniques are transforming the built environment. His work has been awarded with several prizes worldwide such as the concept and content of Montenegrian Pavilion for the Architecture Exhibition Venice Biennale or the bench installation Love without Borders, as part of the London Festival of Architecture 2019.


Fathom Architects 

Founded in 2016 and based in London Bridge, Fathom designs beautiful, logical buildings with a focus on complex briefs and sensitive sites. Depth is at the core of what they do: depth of research, of thinking, depth of curiosity, understanding and collaboration.



Founded by Josh Haywood in 2016, Hylemo specializes in digitally led design and fabrication processes. The studio has built a portfolio of pavilions constructed at a range of events from Burning Man to Versace’s catwalk show in Milan.


Local Collective Studio 

Local Collective Studio is a London based architecture and design studio. The idea is to test for sustainable ways of living that engage with local context and offer different social expressions. It is also a lab that experiments with the extraction and use of local clay deposits as construction material.


Mi Ding

Mi Ding, architect, graduated from AA (Architectural Association School of Architecture), is interested in exploring the relationship of human and space, especially how we interact with it. The exploration and investigation often start with analyzing the experience (or activities) and how does space design influence our way to experience it.


Nick Tyrer with Victoria Philpott 

Nick Tyrer is an Architect and Computational Designer. Winner of the RIBA Rising Star Award 2019. His work is bold, fun and creative, often integrating strong geometries and patterns. Victoria is an award-winning garden designer including a Gold-Medal at the RHS Chatsworth Flower Show 2019.


Our Building Design with Bim Burton 

Our Building Design was co-founded by Tumpa Fellows (Architect) and David Fellows (Structural Engineer). The practice is an inter-disciplinary, research-based collaborative, providing a unique opportunity for professionals to find collective adaptations to the changing climate, social transformation and to a budget. They have teamed up with the designer and talented furniture maker Bim Burton for this entry.


Spatial-esk with Lazerian

Founded by Samuel Kapasa, Spatial-esk creates transformative spaces through engagement, sustainability and knowledge. He has teamed up with designer Liam Hopkins (Lazerian) to form an exciting collaboration. Lazerian is a contemporary creative studio that manipulates established design concepts, digital technology and functional materials to create radical solutions.


Temporary Autonomous Architecture Collective

Temporary Autonomous Architecture ‘T.A.A.’ consists of an international collective of artists, designers, architects, researchers, creatives and activists who use the strategies of: Appropriation, Dissemination, Empowerment, Networking and Subversion in their work. Their LFA and Network Rail ‘Sitting Pretty’ design competition Team are: Anna Blom (UK), Genie Niu (UK) and Hanna Vaskivuo (Finland).


United Suburbs of AmeriKa 

The United Suburbs of AmeriKa is a London based design initiative that aims to establish a connection between the built world and the imaginative, witty, and (at times) political capacities of storytelling. The United Suburbs believe architecture and design should be a be a call for play– it shouldn’t take itself so seriously.




The ‘Sitting Pretty’ competition is being judged by an expert panel comprising:

  • Frank Anatole (Principal Architect, Network Rail)
  • Anthony Dewar (Professional Head Buildings and Architecture Safety, Technical and Engineering, Network Rail)
  • Will Hurst (Managing editor, Architects’ Journal)
  • Tamsie Thomson (Director, London Festival of Architecture)
  • Paul Priestman (Director, PriestmanGoode)

The ten shortlisted participants are now developing a design concept that reflects their creative vision for these seating provisions and will be awarded an honorarium of £400 each. A further £5,000 will be awarded to each of the four winning teams to manufacture and install their seating proposal. Their designs will be installed in a real station environment, to be enjoyed by hundreds of thousands of people travelling by train to their destinations daily.


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

“It’s fantastic to see such a rich mix of emerging architectural and design talent on our shortlist for ‘Sitting Pretty’. For the shortlisted practices, it’s a fantastic opportunity to transform the station experience for many thousands of people, and for the LFA and Network Rail it’s an opportunity to demonstrate the transformative power of architecture, regardless of scale, in such an important public setting.  We’re grateful to Network Rail for working with us to promote positive change in our everyday public spaces, and I’m excited for the shortlisted teams to interpret our 2020 theme of ‘power’, as they now develop their seating design vision to help make London’s stations truly enjoyable places for Londoners, commuters and passers-by alike.”

Frank Anatole, Principal Architect at Network Rail, said:

“The interest in the competition has been very high, and we’ve been really encouraged by the calibre and diversity of entrants. The shortlisted designers have toured the locations at the four London stations (Waterloo, Victoria, Charing Cross, London Bridge) chosen to showcase the final successful bench designs. We’re tremendously excited to see what emerges in the next stage.”


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