Camden Council commissioned Factory Furniture in 2010 to design a new range of public furniture for Great Queen Street. The brief was, among other things, aimed at addressing the kinds of anti-social and criminal behaviour that typically plague city centre benches. These issues often result in complaints from residents and, in some central London areas, lead to the removal of much of the street seating.
To ensure that our designs would successfully tackle a wide variety of urban challenges, we drew on expertise from various departments including Transport Planning, Highways Engineers, DDA officers and the Met police’s Crime Prevention Design Advisor. If these issues could be addressed, the hope was that Camden officers would be able to reintroduce seating to the borough. This would encourage walking, enhance the quality of the public realm and enable people to sit and enjoy public spaces and streets again. After much work the Camden bench was born. The bench successfully fulfils the brief by providing:
– A safer place to sit: the recesses (front and back) allow the public to store bags behind their legs out of reach of opportunistic thieves; while the lack of slots and crevices deters those wishing to stash drugs.
– A cleaner place to sit: there are no flat surfaces or crevices where litter usually accumulates. The surface is specially treated to repel dirt, water, graffiti and fly-posters.
– A more inclusive place to sit: the gentle undulations provide seating at different heights offering the perfect perch for every passer-by. Observations have shown that the Camden bench encourages more seat sharing than other, more traditional, designs.
– Ease of relocation: the bench needs no anchoring; built-in lifting eyes allow easy resiting by truck crane (e.g. away from problem areas).
Awards: Keep Britain Tidy best practice, Design Council / Home Office approved to design out crime, Home Office approved for counter-terrorism use as a vehicle blocker.
Client – Camden Borough Council