I make unique, long-lasting wellbeing benches using sustainable local oak. My proposition is that some benches in some key hub locations should be different:
- My benches are designed in messy art workshops with local community groups so the benches fulfil their needs- this also encourages people to feel ownership of the finished bench.
- They are then hand-made by me with a locally-tailor-made galvanised steel sub-frame (cos it breaks my heart to see all the legs rotting off all the benches in all the parks just because councils don’t add metal feet!)
- English oak is used for the slats for the seat and back- the slat design means the wood can quickly air-dry after it rains (so that the wood lasts for decades!) while it also simplifies and minimises maintenance.
- We only use English oak (quercus robur) as it outlasts all other native sustainable timbers (how old is the door on your local church?) and our oak is needs-must felled locally by the volunteers of the fantastic Greenways Countryside Project (no transporting timber half-way around the world for us!). We did experiment excitedly with recycled plastic but it not only lacks rigidity as a material (it soon sags under its own weight) but it is also, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (https://www.reuters.com/article/climatechange-forests-furniture-idUKL8N1A63B3), much less eco-friendly than sustainable timber like ours.
And when installed:
- The unique, original designs of our benches draw people to sit on them.
- The trademark curviness means people sit aligned in a way that encourages…. but doesn’t force…. conversation.
- People linger longer out of doors in a convivial, community-friendly space that is free-to-use and democratic……. helping to turn a hub into a hubbub……. with all the wellbeing gains that brings.
So, can someone please tell me: why on earth are all the other benches straight?