Royal Docks London Bench Designs 2020, Pews and Perches Design Contest Photos, News

Royal Docks London Bench Design Winner

29 Apr 2021

Royal Academy of Arts London

17 December 2020

Royal Docks London Bench Design Competition News

Pews and Perches Design Contest news

London Festival of Architecture and Royal Docks Team unveil winning designs for 2020 ‘Pews and Perches’ competition

17th December 2020 – A series of five new benches designed by emerging architects – the winners of a competition organised the London Festival of Architecture and Royal Docks Team – have been unveiled across the Royal Docks.

The competition, now in its second year, invited architecture and design students, recent graduates and emerging practitioners to deliver a playful new take on street furniture that can celebrate the Royal Docks and the communities at home in the area – a series of conversation starters to re-connect everyone with nature and the docks’ built environment.

From a bench that makes use of the wind to perform as a riverside instrument to a design inspired by an unusual shipment of elephants over 70 years ago, the ‘Pews and Perches’ benches combine imaginative design approaches with creative, sustainable material choices to provide locals, visitors and Londoners with unique new spaces to sit and make the most of their surroundings.

All photos © Luke O’Donovan

ELE-Bench by RAB Studio
Thames Barrier Park

Royal Docks London ELE-Bench by RAB Studio

ELE-Bench by RAB Studio at Royal Docks London

Referencing an unusual delivery of 20 baby elephants to the George V Docks in 1947, the ELE-Bench helps bring to life this moment in the docks’ history for future visitors. Inspired by the gait and rhythm of the elephant’s stride pattern, this simple, colourful bench creates a striking elephant silhouette from afar. With a comfortable seat made from cork, the design offers shelter from the wind as well as space for both back-to-back seating and for multiple family members to sit together, encouraging visitors to pause in this location.

This bench is supported by Crafted By Design, Hanex UK and Wyliewood limited.

Water, water everywhere by Betty Owoo and Quincy Haynes
Royal Victoria Gardens

Royal Docks London Bench Designs Water, water everywhere

Royal Docks London Bench Designs Water, water everywhere by Betty Owoo and Quincy Haynes

With piles of rubbish such as plastic bottles and face masks still commonly thrown into the Thames, this design seeks to start a conversation about how we can inspire people to treat our waterways better and reuse these objects. Water, water everywhere uses these found objects and suspends them in resin where they seem to be floating in water, and jesmonite, where they are almost riverbed fossils waiting to be uncovered. Frozen in time, the result is a bench simple in form but complex in materiality, providing a sculptural seat for people to gather and connect with the water’s edge.

This bench is built in collaboration with Helen Caulfield of the Redundant Architects Recreation Association (R.A.R.A.) and supported by Sophie Percival and Priscilla Wong.

The Royal Resonance by CAST (Chutimon Suetragulwong, Austin Joseph, Sonam Dahya, Tyler Natdanai)
Outside UTC College

Royal Docks London Bench Design The Royal Resonance by CAST

Royal Docks London Bench Design The Royal Resonance

The Royal Resonance tackles the topic of the pandemic and social distancing with playful urban furniture that allows people to be together while remaining safely apart. In a design inspired by nature, several aluminium poles vibrate in the wind, performing as a riverside instrument and an art form. The modular design promotes both isolation and relationships between people and nature, forging local interactions as well as social distancing as a community safely.

This bench is supported by Jian Jun Hayashi, Jeremy Tay and Karakusevic Carson Architects Workshop.

Afloat by Ben Child and Luca Luci
Connaught Crossing North

Royal Docks London Bench Designs Afloat by Ben Child and Luca Luci

Royal Docks London Bench Designs Afloat

Referencing the docks’ marine context, this design recycles rowing oars to create a crossed structure for the bench. Building on this, Afloatsees different oar lengths used to support the back rest and armrest, which also includes a small table. The back rest and seat itself are made from marine plywood, cut with a CNC machine. Finished in a bright teal colour and engraved with ‘Royal Docks’, the bench stands out from afar, creating a contrast with the wooden texture of the oars and highlighting its structure.

The Rocking Bench by Duncan Graham
Thames Barrier Park

Royal Docks London Bench Design Rocking Bench by Duncan Graham

Royal Docks London Rocking Bench by Duncan Graham

A call for playfulness and for a bit of fun in today’s less than fun world, the Rocking Bench stands out with its bright, yellow colour, and seeks to encourage interaction while keeping people safely apart. Inspired in part by the beam scales once used in the Royal Docks to weigh imported goods, the bench uses a simple rocking motion to provide a connection for friends, family, and neighbours, but also calls out for companions for those sat alone. The bench consists of CNC cut plywood fastened together with steel rods, and was manufactured entirely within the Lee Valley.

Once London’s gateway to world trade, the Royal Docks is one of the UK’s most important regeneration stories, as it re-emerges as a thriving and diverse commercial and cultural hub with a welcoming new waterfront. The winning teams and the Royal Docks Team have worked closely with local communities to develop their designs, ensuring that these are in keeping with the communities’ needs and aspirations for their public space.

This project also expands on the legacy of the first edition ‘Pews and Perches’ competition, which sees three benches remain installed across the Royal Docks waterfront, where they are still enjoyed by the public. Building on this success, these five new benches will continue to champion the Festival’s mission to support and showcase emerging talent. In response to the regulations put in place due to coronavirus, they will not only bring a fresh, new design perspective but also provide space to safely enjoy the Royal Docks.

The teams have each been awarded £2,000 including a design fee of £500 to develop, build and install their benches, which will be in place for the next year. The competition was judged by an expert panel including Dan Bridge (Programme Director in the Royal Docks), Tamsie Thomson (Managing Director, New London Architecture), Frances Williams, (Technical Editor, Architects’ Journal), Pedro Gil (Founder, Studio Gil), Rawnak Jassm (Community Engagement Officer, Royal Docks Team) and Kevin Twyford (Principal Landscape Architect, London Borough of Newham).

Tamsie Thomson, Managing Director of New London Architecture, said:

“This year’s Pews and Perches collection is a series of imaginative and thoughtful responses to the unique setting of the Royal Docks and the times we find ourselves in. Thanks to our brilliant design teams, these benches draw upon the Royal Docks’ rich history, offer commentary on our environmental impact, and reconcile our desire to be together while remaining socially distant. Every year I’m inspired by how the winning teams address the brief, and I hope that many people will enjoy these benches and experience the difference that great design can make to our everyday lives.”


The London Festival of Architecture (LFA) is the world’s largest annual architecture festival and showcases London as a global architectural hub. The LFA’s mission is to support London’s architectural and design talent, enthuse and engage with the public, and find new ways to look at familiar places. In 2020 the LFA has explored the theme of power, and celebrated innovation and design through a digital events programme in June. The 2019 edition of the LFA inspired over 600 events across the capital, attracting over 800,000 visitors and a global audience of 138 million. A year-round programme of design competitions, design charrettes, campaigns and other activities also champions London as the best place in the world to practice and enjoy architecture.

Twitter: @LFArchitecture
Instagram: @LondonFestivalofArchitecture

Royal Docks Enterprise Zone:The Royal Docks Enterprise Zone is a joint project between the Mayor of London, the London Borough of Newham, led by Mayor Rokhsana Fiaz, and the London Economic Action Partnership (LEAP). It has the potential to deliver 35,000 jobs, 4,000 new homes and more than £5 billion of inward investment by 2037/38. As London’s only Enterprise Zone, the Royal Docks has a special government designation that means new business rates in the Zone are reserved and reinvested into the area. This has enabled plans for £314 million of investment into the area over the next 5 years to revive the area as a distinctive location for business and culture.

Royal Docks London Design Competition information received 171220

Previously on e-architect:

Royal Docks London Design Competition News

Transforming London’s Royal Docks with water sensitive urban design – new open ideas design competition is announced.

Royal Docks London Contest
Design: Heatherwick Studio
Royal Docks London Contest design by Heatherwick Studio
image from London Development Agency
Royal Docks London Design Competition – proposal by UK designers Heatherwick Studio

Albert Island, Royal Docks London Development – 2018

Silver Building in the Royal Docks, London – 2017

Royal Docks London Regeneration Proposals – 2016

Royal Docks Cable Car – 2013

Another Royal Docks London design on e-architect:

Royal Docks Business Park
Design: KCAP with Maccreanor Lavington Architects
Royal Docks Business Park London design
image from architect
Royal Docks Business Park

Location: Royal Albert Way, London, England, UK

London Buildings

Contemporary London Architecture Designs

London Architecture Designs – chronological list

London Architecture Tours by e-architect

London Architects Offices

London Architecture

Royal Docks London Regeneration Proposals

London Olympic Stadium
HOK Sport – Peter Cook

London designs by Thomas Heatherwick – Selection:

Paperhouse, Kensington & Chelsea, west London
Paperhouse : Newspaper Kiosk design

Rolling Bridge, west London
Rolling Bridge

Key design by Thomas Heatherwick:

Shanghai Expo – UK Pavilion, China
Shanghai Expo UK Pavilion

Another Royal Docks building on e-architect:

Silvertown Quays
Silvertown Quays Royal Docks

The Shard
Design: Renzo Piano Building Workshop (RPBW)

Royal Academy of Arts London

Royal Courts of Justice London

Royal Danish Embassy

Comments / photos for the Royal Docks Redevelopment London page welcome