Photo: Agnese Sanvito

When it comes to public seating, there aren’t many great options. It’s easy to picture something cold and rigid, and perhaps caked with chewed gum, like that highly uncomfortable park bench or bus station seat that merely serves as a momentary waiting spot. They’re functional at best yet unimaginative. But what if we approached designing public spaces in new ways? That is the task the London Festival of Architecture placed on five burgeoning designers: to reimagine a bench as not only a place to stop but a place to play, to reconnect with the imagination. For architect Irene Astrain, director of Astrain Studio Architects, it was an alluring experiment.

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