ParkedBench micro-park lets Londoners take five

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ParkedBench is designed by WMBstudio

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A new park in London, UK, may be dwarfed by some of the city's larger and more grandiose green spaces, but it still provides a place for Londoners to take a break. The Tooley Street Fresh Air Square, which takes up just two car parking spaces, has been installed in the London Bridge area of the city.

Designed by WMBstudio, the Tooley Street "parklet" is the result of the Fresh Air Squares competition that was launched in April. Run by area development firm Team London Bridge (TLB) and partners, it challenged participants to design modular, portable micro-parks that could replace car parking spaces for anything from a week to one year. The parklets were also required to improve the local environment and monitor air quality.

Over 60 entries to the contest were received, with three designers shortlisted and invited to present at the London Festival of Architecture (LFA) in June. After offering expert opinions on the submissions in front of a 100-strong audeince, a panel that included representatives from LFA, Southwark Council, Transport for London, the Greater London Authority, Future Cities and TLB judged WMBstudio to be the winner.

Its entry, called ParkedBench, is a long single bench with a laterally undulating form. Covering an area of two parking spaces, it provides a place for people to sit and relax and has spaces for integrated planting in the pockets of the bench's curves. The bench and base elements are made of scaffolding boards.

In addition to providing a mini oasis for passersby, ParkedBench, now installed as the Tooley Street Fresh Air Square, has an an air quality monitor that feeds real-time data to an app and website designed by Kings College London. It is one of a number of such air quality monitors that form a network across London.

The Tooley Street Fresh Air Square was funded by the TFL Future Streets Incubator. It was launched on Nov. 20, with delivery to a further three sites in the London Bridge area scheduled for the next 12-18 months.

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