City Benches

Location: Cheapside and Aldgate
Date: 2021
Status: Temporary
Project Types: Street furniture
Client: Cheapside Business Alliance, Aldgate Connect Business Improvement District

Nine new public benches situated in Cheapside and for the first time, Aldgate, were placed to mark the 2021 edition of the LFA’s City Benches competition with Cheapside Business Alliance and Aldgate Connect BID. Designed by an emerging group of international and interdisciplinary architects and designers, these new benches brought life to the public realm across the City with their bold and imaginative designs, as London began to welcome visitors, commuters and locals back to its streets post pandemic lockdowns. This year’s collection of benches each offers a fresh new take on bringing people back together post pandemic, providing a safe and inviting environments for people to meet again and enjoy the capital with a creative approach to the Festival’s 2021 theme of care.


It Takes Two by 10F  (Nomura Building)

It takes two © Agnese Sanvito

As a tribute to the many inventive ways of occupying public furniture under the pandemic’s social-distancing restrictions, It Takes Two introduces a bend to the simple straight bench, creating a see-saw form that encourages dialogue between friends and strangers at either end, while maintaining physical distance. The bright blue recalls the historic colour of public amenities in the City of London, as found in the decommissioned police phone boxes that are still present in the area. The bench is made from Blue Dapple panels and 100% recyclable materials.

This bench is supported by Smile PlasticsCNC Projects and Clever Mike.

To hear Jane and Arthur sharing the story behind their bench, head here.


Do you care about your city? by Nick Green

Do you care about your city © Agnese Sanvito

It’s been said that ‘London streets are paved with gold’, but aren’t they also gilded with the riches of the lunch break? This design takes fragments of litter – coffee cups, plastic bottles, takeaway packaging etc – and seals these within concrete and resin, elevating a litter strewn surface into terrazzo. By repurposing the detritus of the transient commuter city into a new object of permanence and status, Do you care about your city? is a reminder that litter is not temporary, and that while much of what we throw out every day is single-use, it still has a lasting impact on our streets and environment.

The bench is supported and manufactured by Smith and Goat.

To hear Nick sharing the story behind his bench, head here.


Quick Getaway by Ex Architectures with Flu-or Arquitectura

Quick getaway © Agnese Sanvito

Quick Getaway highlights travel as a form of care. Unfortunately, many of us have been deprived of this throughout the pandemic, which has been particularly hard for those in dense urbanized cities such as London. The Quick Getaway bench creates a holiday inspired oasis in the heart of the city, providing respite and triggering memories

The timber for the bench was supplied by Finsa UK, and the protecting oil was supplied by Rubio Monocoat.

To hear Alexander sharing the story behind his bench, head here.


The Friendly Blob Jelly Collaborative

The Friendly Blob © Agnese Sanvito

The pandemic has affected us in a multitude of ways, depriving us of the opportunity to meet up and socialise. It seems we as humans are now craving these open public spaces more than ever. The Friendly Blob is a proposal that motivates us to take care of not only our physical health but our mental health. The blob encourages people to meet at a social distance and discover the public spaces that London has to offer. Taking inspiration from the dense history of the City of London, the bench acts as a miniature of the Square Mile, encouraging visitors to explore and learn about the architecture of the city.

The bench is supported by Champion Timber,, OPM Furniture and Dulux.

To hear Kelly and Jennifer sharing the story behind their bench, head here.


Sobremesa by Pebble Haus

Sobremesa © Agnese Sanvito

Noticing the pressure of missing our friends and close ones during the lockdowns, Sobremesa provides a space for interaction where friends can catch up in the most natural way — over a cup of coffee. Sobremesa is the time spent relaxing after a meal to drink coffee, engaged in a relaxing conversation. The bench is made of jesmonite and coffee extracted from residual grounds sourced from local coffee shops, which have suffered a lot during the closure of the City. Pebble Haus invites you to have a cup of coffee, and to enjoy your little piece of sobremesa.

This bench is supported by Dorado Jewellery, Pensaer London, Lane Eight Coffee and Legge Studio.

To hear Jerry, Andrés and Dominika sharing the story behind their bench, head here.

Conversation by NVBL with Webb Yates, The Stone Carving Company and The Stone Masonry Company

Converstation © Agnese Sanvito

Conversation pays homage to the history of material and exchange in the City of London. The design celebrates stone, craftsmanship and its natural architectural qualities while creating a place for connection, inspired by 19th century courting chairs. Conversation is a prototype to advocate the possibilities of developing stone design and technologies -rediscovering the use of stone structurally in architecture. The bench is made solely from stone offcuts, carefully designed and handcrafted, highlighting its natural durability, structural integrity, sustainability and beauty. The stone pieces interlock in a specific order of assembly, connecting and supporting each other, and can be easily disassembled when required.

This bench is supported by The Stone Masonry Company.

To hear Nicola sharing the story behind her bench, head here.


A Cuppa by The Mad Hatters

A Cuppa © Agnese Sanvito

From matcha to chai, chá or sencha; tea is more than just preparing a drink. It is a cathartic ceremony that unites people, cultures and communities. Reminiscent of Alice in Wonderland’s Tea Party, where Alice’s fundamental concept of time is challenged, this bench invites everyone to pause and have A Cuppa. The exaggerated scale of the delicate teacup and saucer, coupled with its playful patterns and bold colour scheme, brings a sense of light-hearted bliss to the City. Crowned with lush planting which alludes to the essential elements of tea, the bench injects an additional touch of nature to its setting.

This bench is supported by Derwent London, UEL – Department of Architecture & Physical Design, BRILLIART and Jen’s Plants & Florists.

To hear Ryan and Iara sharing the story behind their bench, head here.


Monuments to Mingling by Sohanna Srinivasan in collaboration with Joyce and Joyce Joinery and Christian Spencer-Davies

Monuments to Mingling © Agnese Sanvito

Monuments to Mingling are inspired by Aldgate’s rich architectural history and diverse contemporary identities. Each bench is a playful fusion of styles and motifs from a range of key community focal points, both past and present, including the East London Mosque, Aldgate pump and the historic Roman gate. The remixing of these elements hopes to encourage conversations across different communities and age groups. In addition, each bench celebrates a milestone in the government’s roadmap out of lockdown, the dates of which are engraved in Latin, in a nod to the area’s Roman past.

Monuments to Mingling are dedicated to Mary Vaughan Johnson, an inspiring friend and educator who is sadly not with us anymore and supported by Joyce and Joyce Joinery and A Small World.

To hear Sohanna sharing the story behind her bench, head here.


Plant Yourself Here by Lisa McDanell Studio

Plant Yourself Here © Agnese Sanvito

Benches are not very sociable spaces, typically facing outwards onto a busy road or away from a patch of grass. This project instead features two reclined seats that face each other, encouraging visitors to interact while maintaining social distance. The scooping form allows users to recline, enjoy the natural feeling of the cork, and look up at the sky while smelling the scented plants. The project aspires to be a light-hearted piece of street furniture that encourages children to play and provides a spot to have a short break in busy London life.

Plant Yourself Here has been designed in collaboration with Mahers Model Makers.

To hear Lisa sharing the story behind here bench, head here.

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