Dezeen Magazine

Submarine Cables by Studio Green

Emerging designers animate London's Royal Docks with Pews and Perches

Steel-banded timber crates and a wave-like rope seat are among the benches that have been installed throughout the Royal Docks for the London Festival of Architecture.

The benches have been created as part of Pews and Perches, a competition hosted annually by the London Festival of Architecture (LFA) with the Royal Docks Team (RDT) to invite emerging creatives to brighten the district with playful seat designs.

Several of this year's six winning benches make use of reclaimed materials in response to the festival's 2024 theme of "reimagine", which poses questions about how London can be a more sustainable, equitable and collaborative city as it navigates climate change, the cost of living crisis and inequality.

Submarine Cables by Studio Green for Pews and Perches
Submarine Cables is made of knotted rope

"At a time of climate crisis, it is more important than ever that we seek solutions which reduce waste and embrace the principles of a circular economy," said RDT programme director Dan Bridge.

"This year's cohort embody this ambition, demonstrating what is possible when the creative and functional combine," he added.

"We are excited to see how these remarkable benches will continue to inspire and contribute to a more sustainable future for the Royal Docks and London as a whole."

The Flow Bench by North-Bound Collective
The Flow Bench was decorated with the local community

Submarine Cables by Bristol-based Studio Green has a wave-like form, referencing the history of London's Silvertown waterside district.

Constructed from rope that is tied with traditional rigging knots, it nods to the district's history of manufacturing submarine cables.

Another nautical seat is The Flow Bench, designed by North-Bound Collective, a group of graduates from the University of Sheffield's Class of 2023. The bench is in the shape of a surfboard and is decorated with maritime motifs painted in collaboration with the local community.

On the Cobbles by Poacea for Pews and Perches
On the Cobbles is formed of steel-banded timber crates

Non-profit collective Poacea's On the Cobbles bench takes cues from the Royal Docks' trade hub history, formed of repurposed timber crates banded together with steel.

Another seat formed from reclaimed wood is From Trash to Treasure, contributed by architects Katie Fisher and Siraaj Mitha. The geometric cube-like seating is adorned with timber tiles finished with an aquatic, swirling pattern.

From Trash to Treasure by Katie Fisher and Siraaj Mitha
From Trash to Treasure is also formed of reclaimed wood

Spatial agency Panta Rhei Collaborative and designer Miles Dean designed the 66CO2 seat, which is constructed from concrete sourced from existing construction sites.

Mounted on cylindrical legs, the recycled concrete lends a sculptural look and varying tones to the bench.

66CO2 by Panta Rhei Collaborative and Miles Dean for Pews and Perches
Reclaimed concrete forms the 66CO2 bench

The final bench created this year is Now is the Time to Moor Off by design collective Studio_Underbar.

Formed from bagasse, a pulpy, fibrous by-product of sugar production, the bench has a minimalist and geometric design that aims to encourage discourse about the circular economy.

Pews and Perches form part of the Royal Docks' official programme during LFA 2024, which takes place across London throughout June. This year marks the fifth and final edition of the competition.

In total, 25 benches have been installed as part of the competition since its inception in 2018. Along with this year's additional six benches, nine benches from past years remain unmoved.

Now is the Time to Moor Off by Studio_Underbar
Now is the Time to Moor Off is formed of a by-product of sugar production

The winners of last year's edition included a circular seat made from deadstock bricks and an S-shaped bench crafted from 100 timber batons.

Other benches featured on Dezeen include a fossil-free steel bench produced by street furniture brand Vestre and designer Emma Olbers that was made without creating carbon emissions.

The photography is by Luke O'Donovan.

London Festival of Architecture takes place from 1 to 30 June 2024 at various locations across London, UK. See Dezeen Events Guide for an up-to-date list of architecture and design events taking place around the world.