Gracefield Gardens (Health and Social Care) Centre, London, Waving Benches, 2008
A new resource centre was built in Streatham, South London offering a wide range of health and social services. The centre was designed around a tall open central courtyard which brings in natural light and acts as a focus, and point of orientation, for users of the building.
As part of the selection process the short-list (including lighting designer, landscape architect and ceramicist) informally presented initial concepts to staff. Our idea, and the winning concept, was to have a series of tall dynamic benches that projected into the tall space offering both private and more open seating areas, sensitive to the wide range of users.
A dynamic circle of five different benches with tall curving arms - the same component but varying "articulation" - creates differing vertical and dynamic forms creating a sense of drama in the courtyard. Almost like watching a dance, with the oak providing a much needed natural element.
The variation in arm positions creates benches with a surprisingly different feel - some more contained and enclosing and others more open and a choice of orientation for users.
Constructed out of native oak for strength and durability, with the ability to weather and age well - a feature repeated in the copper finials which will gradually change to a beautiful, patinated green.