Material of seating places

3 01 2011

by Ha mh Thai

As Jun mentioned about the flexibility of seating places (see post: “Chairs in Jardin des Tuileries, Paris”), I also want to put forth another aspect of comfortable seats which is their material.

Many older people cannot walk for longer than 10 minutes without resting (DTLR 2001), and luckily they can find somewhere to seat. However, there are many ‘modern’ types and materials far from bringing them comfort such as those made of metal or granite which may look hard, slippery and not good taste. In converse, wooden seats are widely considered the most popular and easy to use, because they feel warmer, more familiar and welcoming. Northumberland Street in Newcastle is a good example of providing people good seating places outdoor (meanwhile there are hardly any seats in the shops). Two types of bench are scattered on the street in some groups. They are both sturdy with non-protruding legs, providing people variety of choices.

Type 1 - Pictured by author

Type 1 - Pictured by author

The first type with back rest looks most comfortable with wooden surface is widely choice of older people.

Type 2 - Pictured by author

Type 2 - Pictured by author

The second type which is also made by wood is designed deep enough to seat in both sides.


DTLR (Department of Transport, Local Government and the Regions), 2001. By Design. Better places to live: A companion guide to PPG3. London: TSO.




2 responses

3 01 2011

For me, I agree with Ha when considering street benches. Different, designs and material used in cities around the world, but not all of them succeeded to service their purpose.
That’s because lot of designers have forgotten the main function of benches when they design and concentrated on ecstatic aspects only.
However, the user will not appreciate the design of the bench if it’s not comfortable and making his or her journey easier.
Therefore, by time people started to create perceptions about benches and materials, where wooden benches are seen very comfortable and relaxing while other materials are difficult to set on.
And that will affect the perception of the urban space in general, especially for elderly people, and it might reduce their use to that space and all public spaces in general.
So in my point of view, I see that the user has to be the priority while designing in order for the designed space to succeed.

4 01 2011

In the summer, the grass in front of the Business School is quite popular for the lunch. Maybe the designer could use the landscape design or other way to provide the suitable places for sitting. I think another factor for the design of sitting furniture in the UK may be the angle of the sitting surface. As there are many rainy days during the year, and also many snow in Newcastle, is hard to keep the sitting surface dry after these bad weather. I just think the drainage design for the sitting surface, or the sitting with top cover could adapt to the weather here.

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