Friday, 2 January 2015

The secret bench

I first spotted the buried bench (below, top left - you have to look) one day on the tow path early this year, before the leaves had come out on the Dogwood. No idea why this bench has been singled out for neglect, but the bushes around it are particularly fast-growing. Perhaps one summer they just grew a bit hard. Now there's a bench lost in a bush and I keep on thinking it would only take an hour with the loppers, I could set it free...

the buried bench More benches
reclaimed banch Elizabeth's bench

Benches are an important part of any Utopian landscape; they're demanded above on the London Ideas Wall at the Richard Rogers retrospective that was at the Royal Academy last year, my second favourite bit of the show (first was the build-your-own-lego-architectural-masterpiece). Lots of people had great ideas for what London really needed most of all. Greening of the city and city in the green featured a lot; we like our creature comforts, but all the more so when nature's taken back what the city has put there and softened it with a cushion of moss, an antimacassar of leaves.

Part of what is going on with town planning at the moment is planning for an older population, and the pattern of that is better lighting, smoother paths, fewer steps... and more benches. Time to properly push that nasty trend of the last two decades of the twentieth century whereby the outside world got progressively spikier, fenced off, metalled, studded and shrunken, and inhospitality was the byword for public space, into full reverse. Never mind the alcoholics. 

No comments:

Post a Comment