City Benches

Location: City of London
Date: 2020
Status: Temporary
Project Types: Street furniture
Client: City of London Corporation, Aldgate Connect, Cheapside Business Alliance

In December 2019, the LFA – in partnership with Cheapside Business Alliance and Aldgate Connect Business Improvement District – launched an open call for the third edition of the City Benches competition. Annually, the competition sees a series of innovative public seating installations integrated into the City of London across sites in Cheapside and Aldgate.

The competition invited architecture students, graduates and emerging practices to propose a creative public realm intervention that would transform the City landscape into a space for playful and engaging design. The 2020 edition of the competition invited designers to respond to the City of London’s ‘Health and Wellbeing Strategy’ and consider the mental and physical wellbeing of people passing through the City. 

The shortlisted designs were judged by a panel of experts from across London’s built environment community, and winning designs were installed in June 2020 as part of the London Festival of Architecture.

Winning benches

Chim Chim by Profferlo, Bow Churchyard

Chim Chim © Luke O’Donovan

Chim Chim is a cherry-red brick bench that pays homage to British manufacturing and bricklaying history. Its backrest structure is made up of four individual chimney pot casts – provided by W T Knowles & Sons – one of the UK’s only remaining clay pot manufacturers. 

Exploring the significance of symbols and structural motifs in design, Chim Chim plays off the familiar shapes of the chimneys to evoke the cityscape. 

Chim Chim at Bangabandu Primary School © Luke O’Donovan

Afterlife Following its period of installation in the City, Chim Chim was installed at Bangabandu Primary School in Tower Hamlets. 

A Pineapple for London by HAC, Cheapside

Christopher Wren’s original architectural plans for St Paul’s Cathedral included adorning its dome with an 18-metre tall model pineapple. HAC’s bench takes this historical symbol of opulence and hospitality and brings it down to street level, with a faceted bench that doubles as urban greening. 

A Pineapple for London © Luke O’Donovan

Afterlife A Pineapple for London now sits at Trinity Academy London, a secondary school in Brixton. 

A Pineapple for London at Trinity Academy © Luke O’Donovan


The Two-Seater Rule by Iain Jamieson and Dave Drury

The Two-Seater Rule © Luke O’Donovan

Designed in response to the social distancing rules imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, The Two-Seater Rule provides throne-like seating that members of the City public can enjoy, while maintaining a safe 2-metre social distance. 

The bench’s pattern references 60s wallpaper designs, while also being simplified and contemporary, the idea being that the bench will appeal to users of all ages, and provoke connection between individuals, irrespective of the isolating nature of the health situation. 

Afterlife The bench has now been installed at Dulwich Village Infants’ School.

51°30’48.6″ N 0°05’17.9″W by Studio mxmxm

Studio mxmxm’s bench uses physical spatial coordinates to challenge the idea of what it means to occupy a space. By drawing the user’s attention to a coordinate point, 51°30’48.6″ N 0°05’17.9″W invites passers-by to consider their position within the wider world – not only physically, but socially. 

Afterlife Following its installation in the City, 51°30’48.6″ N 0°05’17.9″W was donated to the City of London School.

Look Up Seats by Oli Coleman

Look Up Seats © Luke O’Donovan

Afterlife Look Up Seats were relocated to Dalston Curve Garden, a community green space in East London.

More Competitions.