Designed as the ultimate expression of “hostile architecture”, concrete Camden benches are potent tools for authorities bent on controlling public behavior.
Hurt of the City
Careful what you ask for, Camden London Borough Council, unless you want your name associated with something unpleasant. Well, that ship has sailed as the “Camden bench”, described by Frank Swain of the BBC as “a masterpiece in unpleasant design”, is increasingly employed as an unyielding, non-negotiable, and quite narrowly functional piece of street furniture. Our lead image, taken by Flickr member Fraser the Frank Fish in 2011, is a rare successful attempt to portray the Camden bench in a favorable light.
The Camden bench was designed by Factory Furniture, a manufacturer of exterior furniture whose mission and mantra is “simplicity of form and honesty of material.” That said, Camden London Borough Council provided Factory Furniture with some specific parameters that appear to have taken those aesthetic virtues in a different, at times darker direction. The images above showcase a pair of benches with the optional “trash module” attached.
New Block on the Block
The Camden bench “tackles today’s street seating needs, e.g. being as inclusive as possible whilst resisting criminal and anti-social behavior,” to quote Factory Furniture. Love it or hate it, one must admit the designer(s) cleverly and skilfully navigated an exceptionally fine line to meet those specifications. The missive to the designers focused on five main points – Safety, Cleanliness, Inclusiveness, Location flexibility, and Vehicular security.