The LFA and the Royal Docks Team (RDT) have announced the five design teams chosen to create a playful series of public benches, to be installed along the Royal Docks’ waterfront this October. The winning designs will then be in place for a year, welcoming visitors to the Royal Docks in the run-up to the London Festival of Architecture 2020 and beyond.
Building upon the success of the 2018 and 2019 editions of the ‘City Benches’ project – run in collaboration with City of London and Cheapside Business Alliance – and the ‘Pews & Perches’ competition, which was run by RIBA London for the London Festival of Architecture 2012, this latest instalment in the Festival’s competitions programme offers a new opportunity to enliven the Royal Docks’ distinct waterside setting. Selected from a rich variety of entries from emerging voices across the profession, including architecture and design students, recent graduates and emerging practitioners, the winning teams were each selected for their innovative and refreshing responses and vision for how these can transform the docklands public realm.
The five winning teams are:
McCloy + Muchemwa is the design and architecture studio of Steve McCloy and Bongani Muchemwa. With their roots in Africa and now London-based, the studio’s work demonstrates an inventive exploration into design thinking. As keen collaborators, they enjoy the opportunities for teaming-up with other organisations to tackle all manner of public projects… and preconceptions!
Portia Malik is returning to London having studied for a Masters of Architecture at the University of Pennsylvania and subsequently worked at internationally acclaimed architectural offices in New York City. With a particular interest in joinery and furniture design, Portia enjoys project managing small to large scale builds of her own designs.
Parallel Collective brings together a group of friends sharing same values, diverse skills and experience in projects of various scales and typologies. Established in 2017, the London-based team has been designing spaces to live, to work and to learn. Their entry for an educational complex in Italy recently won the first prize in an international competition and is currently in progress. Other projects include exhibition, retail and interior design. The delivery of their bench project is supported by InOpera Group.
studioWho are a group of young architects who studied together in Spain. Each member of the team has lived and worked in different countries and fields developing a deep background and extensive skills. Despite the distance, they continue to explore together visionary ideas and new perspectives.
Urban Radicals, founded in 2019 by Nasios Varnavas and Era Savvides, is an open collective dedicated to the idea of delivering community focused projects rooted in place and context. Sanne Visser is a Dutch designer who works and lives in London. Her interest is in material innovation, sustainability and future thinking.
Project Partner/ Fabricator: Millimetre – designers and makers since 2006.
Stretching east from Canary Wharf, the Royal Docks is one of the most unique new parts of London, and one of the UK’s most important regeneration stories. The ‘Pews and Perches’ project aims to demonstrate how public realm interventions, even at a small scale, can positively impact on people’s experience of their surroundings, providing visitors with a fun and creative new series of spaces to gather on the waterfront.
As the area re-emerges as a hub of commercial and cultural activity, the competition provides opportunities to rest and relax, encouraging visitors, Londoners and the local community to take in the heritage, new development and open spaces surrounding them. In addition to bringing an element of surprise and play to the Royal Docks, the project continues the Festival’s mission to champion up and coming architects and designers, showcasing emerging talent to hundreds of thousands of people as they discover and enjoy the benches throughout the next year.
The competition was judged by an expert panel, including Dan Bridge (Programme Director, Royal Docks Team), Tamsie Thomson (Director, London Festival of Architecture) and David Ogunmuyiwa (Principal, ArchitectureDoingPlace and Mayor’s Design Advocate).
With the support of the Royal Docks Team, each of the winning teams will be awarded a budget of £1,500 to create and manufacture their benches, in time for installation next month.
Tamsie Thomson, director of the London Festival of Architecture, said:
“As we continue to expand our competitions programme with even more exciting opportunities, it’s been brilliant to see such a rich variety of submissions for the competition; a testament to the impressive talent and imagination of the emerging voices in our industry. We’re thrilled to be working with the Royal Docks Team and the designers to bring their proposals to life and look forward to seeing how these will offer a playful, innovative and positive contribution to the Royal Docks’ waterfront over the next year.”