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New generation of bench designs wanted

About Our Favourite Place

The Our Favourite Place (OFP) programme supports projects initiated and implemented by the community to enliven public spaces across Singapore to build community interactions and create shared memories.

About the bench project

‘bench’ was a design competition initiated in 2012 that sought to capture the spirit of the former National Stadium through using its seating planks to create delightful public benches. In the second edition ‘Pick a bench, Pick a place’ in 2014, the public voted for the designs to be crafted and locations to place the benches.

  Published: 14 August 2017

The ‘Kallang Wave’ with its undulating curves. ‘DREAM’ with its striking block letters. The ‘Coil’ with its playful spiral. These are the names of benches crafted from the historic seating planks of the former National Stadium. Their forms animate public spaces such as parks, the Singapore River, hospitals and plazas, bringing the stadium’s legacy to communities there. 

Now, the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) is looking for fresh interpretations of the stadium’s memories and the benches’ contribution to public spaces, from a new generation of designers. Through ‘Re:Bench’, a public competition launching today, URA is calling for designs for the next batch of benches. These will be fabricated from the remaining seating planks. 

“Through the bench project, we see good design tangibly expressed in beautiful and useful ways. The benches not only commemorate the former National Stadium, but have also injected vibrancy to the public spaces they are in. We want to bring this buzz to other areas using the remaining planks,” said Mr Lim Eng Hwee, Chief Executive Officer designate of URA. 

Back in 2012, the salvaged wooden planks were transformed into 30 designs that were selected through a design competition and commissioned. Currently, 93 benches are located in 23 public spaces around Singapore. 

“This [project] is not only sustainable, it gives people a sense of nostalgia, it gives them something to relate to when they realise the benches are made from wood from the National Stadium, said engineer Andrew Lee, who was resting on the podium-shaped ‘Benchmark Sat’ bench. 

To encourage new ideas and involvement in sculpting our public realm from young designers, the competition is open to those aged 35 and below.

Mr Peter Chen, Senior Lecturer at the School of Art, Design and Media at the Nanyang Technological University, was the designer of the ‘1973’ bench. “Good design should be timeless, and people of all generations should be engaged in the shaping of design and the environment,” said Mr Chen. 

“It might be liberating for younger designers to look at these planks, and if there isn’t a particular memory or attachment to them, they might be able to re-imagine an alternate narrative for the reuse and repurposing of these planks. That they may be unburdened by history could lead to fresh insights and new perspectives,” he added. 

The competition, which is under URA’s Our Favourite Place programme, is open for submissions from 14 August till 30 November 2017. Entries will be evaluated based on strength of concept – how well they respond to the brief; and creativity – level of innovation as a public furniture and an art piece. Winning designs will each be awarded a $1,000 cash prize. The designs will then be fabricated and placed at various public spaces.