Choosing the right public bench

Choosing a public bench can have a significant impact on the identity and use of the public space where it’s installed. A healthy number of solutions exist so you can select the right bench for a specific project. In this guide, we will review the key characteristics to help you make the best choice. 

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  • How to choose the right public bench

    STRAWBERRY ENERGY Smart Public Bench

    STRAWBERRY ENERGY Smart Public Bench

    When choosing a public bench for an urban area or park or garden, there are a number of key criteria to consider. Keep in mind that the design of the bench and its location can have a direct impact on how people will use the space. Co-ordinating benches carefully with other equipment such as street lighting and cameras can help improve surveillance and discourage vandalism.

    Here are the key points to consider:

    • Location
    • Configuration
    • Style and materials
    • Maintenance
    • Options and trends
  • What do I need to know about the location of a public bench?

    STAYCONCRETE Contemporary public bench

    STAYCONCRETE Public Bench

    Benches create a place for people to rest and encourage interaction between them. This is why they add value to public areas such as parks, town centers and tourist areas. It is important to carefully plan the location of a bench so that it improves user experience and security in the space.

    Orienting benches towards places of interest or along pathways, for example, can help users enjoy views, wait for transport or even improve surveillance and safety. When benches are coordinated with bins, it can help reduce littering. If you add lighting fixtures near the benches, it can help people feel safer. You should also consider whether the bench will need to be fixed to the ground or not. Common installations include  bolted, in-ground and free-standing.

  • What do I need to know about bench configuration?

    METALCO - Public Bench with Sun Lounger

    METALCO Public Bench with Sun Lounger

    The configuration of a public bench will have a big influence on how it’s used, the number of people that can be seated on it and the comfort for the users.

    The main points to consider are:

    For public spaces in shopping or tourist areas, investing in comfortable and elegant furniture can improve user experience and encourage people to spend more time in those areas which could ultimately boost the local economy. In parallel, benches with comfortable backrests or integrated sun loungers are welcoming additions to outdoor settings with beautiful views. Public benches in transport hubs with integrated touch screens or charging stations can help keep users entertained and stay connected.

    The shape of a bench can encourage interaction between users. For example, curved benches with integrated tables could encourage group picnics, while a range of heights and seating positions offer people flexibility. Benches can also be designed to discourage long stays or sleeping. To achieve this goal, it’s best to use individual seats only, armrests as dividers, short or curved benches or stand-up lean-against designs for short-stay waiting areas. Some benches may also have anti-skating devices to prevent skateboarders from grinding on them and damaging the street furniture.

  • What are the available styles and materials?

    STREETLIFE Wooden Public Bench

    STREETLIFE Wooden Public Bench

    Coordinating the style and material of benches with other street furniture can help create or reinforce the identity of a public space. Historic city centers tend to favor more traditional public bench designs. For new urban projects, a wide variety of playful original and contemporary designs are available in both classic and contemporary materials. Ensure that the material and finish you choose is appropriate for the weather conditions as this can affect user comfort and maintenance.

    Wooden benches are a great choice for traditional or natural design schemes and are considered quite comfortable. However, they often require more maintenance than other materials as they might need to be recoated with weather-protecting varnishes or sealants.

    Metal benches such as steel and cast iron are often powder coated to increase robustness, weather/corrosion resistance and comfort. This also facilitates maintenance. They can be combined with other seating materials such as wood and plastic to add to the design or improve comfort. Aluminum is a high-strength, lightweight metal that does not rust, so it’s easy to maintain and a good choice for coastal environments.

    Concrete benches are heavy and low maintenance which make them advantageous for permanent, robust installations. As with metal, concrete structures may be combined with other seating materials such as wood or plastic to improve comfort.

    Plastic benches are available in a wide number of colors and shapes, from seamless organic forms to imitation wooden slats made out of recycled plastics. Often used with metal supporting structures, the advantages of plastic seating include comfort and ease of maintenance.

  • What do I need to know about public bench maintenance?

    The amount of maintenance required will depend on how prone the urban or green space is to being vandalized, the level of pedestrian traffic, climate and weather conditions, as well as the design and materials chosen. Favor corrosion-resistant materials and designs in coastal areas. Consider robust designs with anti-graffiti protection for areas that are likely to be vandalized.

  • What are the current options and trends in public benches?

    LAB23 Public Bench with Planter

    LAB23 Public Bench with Planter

    Designers of town centers, transport hubs and tourist areas are focusing on user experience to improve comfort and ergonomics. Innovative new benches are changing how we use spaces and interact with one another. Here are a few new features to look out for:

    • Connected furniture with integrated chargers, lighting or solar panels
    • Benches with integrated planters, tables or bike racks
    • Stand-up benches for short-stay relief
    • High comfort and organic design benches
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