Building a Better Public Bench

A session on urban furniture at the 2013 ASLA Annual Meeting in Boston traced the history of the public bench, from 14th century Tuscan civic benches to 3D modeled seating arrangements that embrace "ergonomically-sound geometries".

"In a tour of the humble public bench’s past — and its potential future — [Erik Prince, ASLA, Stoss Landscape Urbanism], along with Jane Hutton, assistant professor of landscape architecture, Harvard University, and architect Robyne Kassen, Urban Movement Design, explained how a shift in public furniture design may reflect broader societal changes and could be leading us towards healthier, more inclusive public spaces," writes Jared Green.

"For a period of time, public benches were purposefully made uncomfortable in order to deter unwanted elements. 'They were defensive or deterrent furnishings.' But today, Hutton said, the shift is towards more comfortable and relaxing public furniture, which even enable 'splaying in public,' a posture once only allowed in the 'medical or residential spheres.' There’s now a potential for 'new positions in public spaces.'”

Full Story: The Humble Public Bench Becomes Comfortable, Inclusive, and Healthy

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