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London Festival of Architecture and the Royal Docks launch fourth edition of Pews and Perches design competition

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Winners of LFA 2022 Pews and Perches © Luke O’Donovan

The London Festival of Architecture (LFA) and the Royal Docks Team (RDT) have launched the fourth edition of the Pews and Perches design competition, which will see a series of bespoke public benches delivered throughout the Royal Docks this year.

Following the success of the previous years, the competition is open to architecture and design students, recent graduates and emerging practitioners. We are inviting them to deliver creative bench proposals that encourage those who live, work in and visit the Royal Docks to come together and have meaningful exchanges within the public realm. Now in its fourth year, the Pews and Perches competition highlights the transformative impact of small-scale interventions in the public realm and offers visitors and residents alike unique spaces to sit and make the most of their surrounding public space.

This year, five benches will be installed in the Royal Docks; four selected from this design competition open to all, with the fifth bench being designed by a student team from UTC college in the Royal Docks, mentored by previous competition winner, Andre Kong.

Designers are asked to respond to this year’s LFA theme of ‘In Common’, creating a bench that facilitates and celebrates the ways in which communities share experiences and resources, including public spaces. The competition invites you to share your unique perspective on the theme ‘in common’ through the design of each bench. Consider what people have in common (or what they don’t) when they gather in and use public space as well as the diversity of users and communities in the Royal Docks. Is there adequate provision for the needs of the community in public seating already provided?

The below locations across the Royal Docks have been selected for the 2023 Pews and Perches. Below the areas where there is significant scope for public realm enhancement or seating provision:

  • Royal Victoria Dock Floating Garden (in addition to What A Water Waste! bench from 2023).
  • Lyle Park
  • The Factory Project, Factory Rd, London E16 2HB
  • Royal Albert Wharf
  • London Design & Engineering UTC College (to be designed by students from UTC)

The locations above are subject to final landowner approval.

Interested applicants are invited to submit their proposal by midday on 1 December 2022 via the online form here. The winners will each be awarded £2,100 including a design fee of £500 to develop, build and install their bench in summer 2023. Each bench will stay in place until at least summer 2024.



Rosa Rogina, Director of the London Festival of Architecture, said: “We’re thrilled to be working with the Royal Docks on our fourth Pews and Perches competition, inviting emerging architects and designers to contribute to the public realm and celebrate the ways in which it is used as a space to gather and share resources. The LFA’s mission is to democratise architecture and discover new talent, and we’re very grateful to the Royal Docks for sharing that vision.”

Deputy Mayor for Culture & the Creative Industries, Justine Simons OBE, said: Pews and Perches is a brilliant competition bringing a burst of colour and a spot for people to sit and enjoy the spectacular views around the Royal Docks. Encouraging people to come together through design and use the capital’s public spaces, projects like this help us to build a better London for everyone.”

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