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Sitting Pretty

Location: Waterloo, Victoria, Charing Cross and London Bridge Stations
Date: 2020
Status: Temporary
Project Types: Street furniture
Client: Network Rail 

In 2020, Network Rail and LFA ran a competition to find creative new Benches for some of London’s finest train stations. The competition was designed to consider how better station seating might look, with the potential for winning ideas to be replicated across stations by Network Rail in the future.

The benches offered a variety of benefits to users, through their different approaches including opportunities to incite conversations between strangers, creating a sense of security and personal space, and incorporating sustainable, recycled and zero waste materials into the bench designs to raise awareness of the importance of re-purposing and re-inventing in railway stations of the future. Each installation in the series was accompanied by a digital conversation with the designers featured on the Building Sounds competition, which you can access here.


Reclaim, Re-invent, Re-purpose by Armor Gutiérrez Rivas, Atelier La Juntana

Supported by Shadbolt, University of East London and Kohn Pedersen Fox.

Reclaim, Re-invent, Re-purpose © Luke O’Donovan

Looking to highlight the new role of railways and stations in urban regeneration – not just as transition points, but destinations – the proposal takes inspiration from the complex yet powerful spatial encounters between railway lines and the urban fabric of stations and the city. The design treats reclaimed timber track sleepers with steam bending and digital CNC forming techniques, creating geometries that re-interpret the network infrastructure, and raise awareness of the importance of re-purposing and re-inventing in railway stations of the future. The modular and adaptable design can be expanded to create multiple configurations inspired by different infrastructure settings.  

Sitting on London’s Clay by Local Collective

Supported by Pro-duck, Clayworks and Guy Valentine.

Sitting on London’s Clay © Luke O’Donovan

Local Collective’s seating uses London’s clay – a natural material found beneath Londoner’s feet to offer a social furniture that is breathable and sustainable. The bench’s modular system offers different compositions tailored to different social needs, whilst the materiality of clay improves indoor air quality by absorbing humidity and toxins. More importantly, this is an installation about climate change: to re-think and rationalise centuries-old construction principles and natural materials into sustainable, contemporary building techniques.   

Beluga by Hylemo & Ai Build

Beluga © Luke O’Donovan

From catwalks to festivals, Hylemo specialises in the production of parametric pavilions delivered through digital fabrication. Now in collaboration with Ai build – developers of 3D printing technology driven by robotic arms – they wish to challenge the way furniture in the public domain is produced; reducing material waste to zero and engaging in the circular economy of materials. Through the boundless opportunity of forms offered by additive manufacturing, Hylemo & Ai Build have created a bench that turns seating into an experience of art.

Lacuna by Nick Tyrer with Victoria Philpott

Supported by James Lathams and Garnica, and fabricated by Raskl.

Lacuna © Luke O’Donovan

Nick Tyrer and Victoria Philpott have brought together seating and striking planting through a design that offers a spatial experience while remaining functional and comfortable. Lacuna offers a sense of security and personal space on a large station concourse, while also creating a much larger visual impact upon the identity of the station.

ConvoStation by The United Suburbs

Supported by Universal Spraying Ltd.

Convostation © Luke O’Donovan

ConvoStation is a brightly coloured communal rocking chair – intended to bring strangers together in today’s ever-moving and ever-busy lifestyles. The design incites a conversation between strangers, generates awareness of people’s surroundings through motion, and opens the opportunity for new friendships and chance encounters.


After being in place for one year at the stations, all the benches were successfully rehomed in various locations including Norlington School, Bonnell School and Cymberland School to be enjoyed in a new environment.

Beluga rehomed at Norlington School


More Competitions.