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Competition: The Bench, Winnipeg

An open ideas contest has been launched for a C$500 public bench on Corydon Avenue in Winnipeg, Canada (Deadline: 20 July)

The competition is to design a temporary 12-seat bench, to be constructed this summer on the busy thoroughfare within Winnipeg’s Little Italy district.

Intended to ‘re-envision and re-engage’ street spaces – the low-cost structure will be installed on the curb’s edge facing Tutti Frutti Frozen Yogurt and MAKE Coffee + Stuff retail units.

Canada

Canada

Corydon Avenue in Winnipeg

According to the brief: ‘The objective of the competition is to re-envision and re-engage the street as a public space. The competition invites ideas to transform the street as a public space through an infrastructure intervention, a seating-space.

‘The challenge is to design a public seating that can engage and transform the dynamics on the street, triggering and sustaining temporary (short) social and cultural transactions.’

Winnipeg, known as the ‘Gateway to the West’, has a population of more than 660,000 and is home to various cultural festivals and historic sites.

City landmarks include Antoine Predock’s competition-winning Canadian Museum for Human Rights and the Étienne Gaboury-designed Esplanade Riel pedestrian bridge.

Winnipeg

Winnipeg

Corydon Avenue competition site

The competition, which is open to anyone, is being organised by Studio for Transformative Urban Forms and Fields (STUFF) which was set up by architect and academic Jae-Sung Chon six years ago.

Judges include Plain Projects principal Liz Wreford, Leehong Kim of Leehong Kim Architects, and University of Manitoba architecture tutor Jeff Garcia.

Proposals should be weather resistant, hardwearing, accessible, easy to use, and take account of street safety. Bicycle parking and planting may also be integrated into designs.

The winner of an earlier iteration of the competition was constructed in the same location last year and is now permanently installed inside a local youth club.

This year’s winning team – set to be announced on 25 July – will receive a C$500 budget to realise its design.

How to apply

Deadline

20 July

Fee

C$20 per team

Contact details

Studio for Transformative Urban Forms and Fields (STUFF)

Email: competition@stuffgroup.net

Visit the competition website for more information

100 VNSF bench case study: Q&A with Christian J Lange

The co-founder of Rocker-Lange Architects discusses lessons learned designing a bench for an office lobby in San Francisco

How did your 100 VNSF bench project respond to its context and users’ requirements?

The bench in the case of the 100 VNSF project was understood more as an object that doesn’t necessarily react to any of the environmental factors of the lobby it is situated in. However the goal in the design was to provide multiple seating configurations. This was achieved using the method of sectional transitioning, which allows for continuous variation and multiple seating possibilities.

San Francisco

San Francisco

100 VNSF Bench by Rocker Lange Architects

What considerations are important when designing a landmark seating structure in a busy public setting?

In order for a design to become a landmark it needs to differentiate itself from its surroundings. In the case of the 100 VNSF bench we decided to go for a more fluid geometry within an orthogonal environment. As a central object within the lobby, the bench in this sense has the capacity to elevate the environment, working as eye-catcher and focal point at the same time.

Which material, structural and other techniques are available to architects seeking to make a similarly impressive impact?

The bench is based on the section-cut methodology. This method has been around for more than a decade and is still one of the cheaper ways to produce geometries as such. There are more sophisticated methods around, which involve more sophisticated ways of making but have the downside that costs can increase substantially. From a material point of view, any sheet material that can be cut via a CNC cutter and has the structural rigidity is feasible. However from a durability point of view it makes more sense to do them in plywood or HDF.

San Francisco

San Francisco

100 VNSF Bench by Rocker Lange Architects

The Longest Bench case study: Q&A with Studio Weave

The London studio discusses lessons learned designing a 300-seat bench for Littlehampton, England

How did your Longest Bench project respond to its context and users’ requirements?

The Longest Bench sinuously travels along Littlehampton’s promenade, meandering around lampposts, bending behind bins, and ducking down into the ground to allow access between the beach and the Green. Like a seaside boardwalk, the Longest Bench rests gently on its habitat and adapts to its surroundings while, like a charm bracelet, it connects and defines the promenade as a whole, underlining it as a collection of special places that can be added to throughout its lifetime.

The bench is 324m long and seats over 300 adults. This measurement is taken following all the curves through the shelters which each house approximately 83m of bench. Accompanying the long bench are two bronze-finished steel monocoque loops that connect the promenade with the green behind it. As the bench arrives inside the twisting loops, it goes a little bit haywire, bouncing of the walls and ceiling creating seats and openings. The loop contains the haywire stretch of bench and frames the views each way.

Littlehampton

Littlehampton

The Longest Bench by Studio Weave

Which material, structural and other techniques are available to architects seeking to make a similarly impressive impact?

The bench is made from thousands of tropical hardwood slats. The timber is 100 per cent reclaimed – including old seaside groynes and material rescued from landfill. Tropical hardwoods are some of the most robust and long-lasting timbers in the world, and they have a proven track record in marine environments. The bench uses more than a dozen different species arranged to express the natural variation in colour and tone from pale blonds to warm pinks and rich browns.

The beautiful variety of reclaimed timbers is interspersed with splashes of bright colour wherever the bench wiggles, bends or dips. The coloured bars are made from stainless-steel box sections dipped in Nylon-11, a polymer enamel. The brightly coloured bars are arranged to create a subtly changing colour scheme, from pink, yellow and orange at the east end to purple, blue and green at the west.

The bench’s support structure is made from stainless steel, a 100 per cent recyclable and on average 70 per cent recycled material (Steel Construction Institute). The two shelters are steel monocoque structures spray coated with aluminium bronze, which gives them their golden finish. Over time, the bronze shelters will settle into their coastal environment, naturally gathering salt streaks and verdigris on the more exposed areas while maintaining a warm golden glow inside.

Littlehampton

Littlehampton

The Longest Bench by Studio Weave