Saturday, September 27, 2014

Public benches once more

click photo to enlarge
Shopping in Spalding, Lincolnshire, the other day we passed several benches that had recently been painted. They were the sort of bench that public and private authorities buy with everything in mind except people sitting on them in comfort. They looked relatively inexpensive, vandal-proof, low maintenance and were clearly made with an eye to how they looked rather than how they performed as a resting place for the human posterior in all its manifold forms. Comfort had been given no consideration whatsoever - they wouldn't have chosen hard, cold steel if it had. Nor had lumbar support ever entered the mind of either the designer or the purchasing officer. But, they looked sleek, modern and eye-catching, particularly with their new coat of paint, and so those responsible could rest easy, knowing that the public would see that they had been discharging their duties with the required diligence. That is, if they ignored the fact that not a single person was sitting on them.

I've lamented elsewhere in this blog - several times, and at length - the fact that public benches frequently look great but are absolutely useless as a place to sit, rest and reflect upon the world. It seems that today, as these examples testified, benches can have every ancillary attribute but never the main quality required to warrant their name. In such designs form is a stranger to function.

photograph and text © Tony Boughen

Camera: Sony RX100
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 31.8mm (86mm - 35mm equiv.)
F No: f4.5
Shutter Speed: 1/100 sec
Exposure Compensation: -0.3 EV
Image Stabilisation: On