Name of the project: ECO BENCH
Status: Competition, Built
Year of completion: 2012
Design Team: Henri Fanthome, Nagendra Chouhan
Location: Aravalli Bio Diversity Park, Gurgaon
Photo Credits : Henri Fanthome , Andre Fanthome
The Aravalli Biodiversity Park is a Unique Park that covers a vast 600+ acres of the Delhi Ridge, from the edge of Gurgaon to Vasant Vihar in Delhi, a track of land of rugged stone landscape, that has been slowly revived, by the I AM GURGAON team, through numerous initiative, which include A Million Trees Gurgaon, that has greened the park into a veritable forest of indigenous species over the past years.
To take the involvement of citizenry further the I AM GURGAON team organized a competition to Design an Eco Bench for the Park. The competition awarded after a Protoype Build of the five jury selections, and public voting on the actual designs at site. The winning design was from Delhi architect, Henri Fanthome who runs Henri Fanthome Office for Architecture.
The design is an attempt to redefine the accepted notion of a park bench. To remove it from the rigidness of sitting with your feet down, and facing in one direction, and develop it into a more dynamic and imaginative object. It is less a bench, and more a dynamic sculpture in a ruggedly beautiful landscape – but only on first impressions.
A closer look will reveal the intricacies of design. The bench is a result of a careful study of many ways of how people sit in India, squatting, sitting cross-legged, lying down, leaning against a wall, sitting across a log, all these possibilities and more were amalgamated through many iterations. It also reimagines how the bench could be used to provide not just conventional seating, but a place for rest, for activity, for engagement and for curiosity.
In its departure from the convention (while still retaining a faint resemblance to older examples of benches) the design tries to address all age groups of users, from toddlers, to young adults to the older amongst the users of this magnificent park. It also addresses the need for different kinds of spaces and gatherings by looking at combinations for layouts and placing of multiple benches in special spaces.
In an age of increasing consciousness the bench also addresses the need for sustainable and environmentally appropriate intervention. The design by virtue of a component assembly system requires mere assembly at site, removing any chemical activity from an ecologically sensitive region. Materials choices have been for largely recycled materials like Plastic lumber, and industrial or stone waste, reducing costs, and reducing the overall impact on a fragile ecosystem.
Serious yet playful, functional and imaginative, and clearly loved by the kids (if you see the pictures). With studied flexibility of use and arrangement, the Eco Bench tries to take the bench where it hasn’t quite been before!