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Spatial Design / Bujar’s Bench ENG

Bujar’s Bench

Public furniture designed with Bujar Beqiri as part of a school street intervention at Gjon Buzuku School.

🗓 Year: 2020
💸 Budget: €140 per unit
✅ Status: Complete

Two kids test out a new bench at the Gjon Buzuku Streets for Kids site as soon as it was set in place. The bench is big enough to define a little space of its own.
Two kids test out a new bench at the Gjon Buzuku Streets for Kids site as soon as it was set in place. The bench is big enough to define a little space of its own.

QM designed a bench for the Gjon Buzuku Streets for Kids project with metal fabricator Bujar Beqiri. It was important to work with people who were connected to the site; we were introduced to Bujar one day on a neighborhood walk.

Bujar showed us photos of a recent project he had completed using thin metal tubing and metal grate.

A bench that Bujar had recently made for a client used simple materials and a basic technique perfect for an inexpensive bench in a public space.
A bench that Bujar had recently made for a client used simple materials and a basic technique perfect for an inexpensive bench in a public space.

Metal furniture like the chairs at Skanderbeg Square works so well in public space because it is durable but light enough to be moved around.

Strangers sitting quite close to each other in the sun. Caregivers can pull up a metal chair and create a small space with a stroller, while two friends share a single chair.
Strangers sitting quite close to each other in the sun. Caregivers can pull up a metal chair and create a small space with a stroller, while two friends share a single chair.

Using Bujar’s technique, we changed the dimensions of the bench. Caregivers have their own set of needs from a bench: for them, a bench is less a place to sit and watch the world go by as it is a work surface. Benches seem to be most useful when they are broad and flat, where belongings can be spread out. Snacks can be taken out; a diaper can even be changed. All the stuff of caregiving has a place to go. The benches at Pazari i Ri are a great example, and in the afternoons they are packed with caregivers and young kids using them exactly like that.

Broad flat benches make it easy for caregivers to spend time comfortably away from home. A matter of twenty centimeters of extra depth makes a drastic difference in signaling who and what is welcome in a public place.
Broad flat benches make it easy for caregivers to spend time comfortably away from home. A matter of twenty centimeters of extra depth makes a drastic difference in signaling who and what is welcome in a public place.
A sketch we made with Bujar with dimensions for a new bench intended for caregivers with young children.
A sketch we made with Bujar with dimensions for a new bench intended for caregivers with young children.
A first prototype. Durability is key to withstanding the realities of being out in public all the time.
A first prototype. Durability is key to withstanding the realities of being out in public all the time.

Bujar made two versions: a squarish one with a backrest and a simple rectangular one. Making two different sizes would extend the budget by making an even cheaper version that could be spread out around the site. The width is sixty centimeters, which seemed to be a minimum threshold to still function as a useful tabletop.

The rectangular version of the bench is narrower but still works as a useful tabletop.
The rectangular version of the bench is narrower but still works as a useful tabletop.

The rectangular bench is lighter and less cumbersome, and fits in different kinds of places. While the square is more comfortable in open space, making its own little zone, the rectangle fits well against edges and in narrower spaces like sidewalks.

The rectangular benches were able to be moved around the site and seemed to naturally find their way to edges.
The rectangular benches were able to be moved around the site and seemed to naturally find their way to edges.

We had time to test additions to the benches, and we worked on a rounded backrest and hooks.

Most of the details of the design were done in person in order to make quick adjustments and to make sure they were feasible for Bujar to make.
Most of the details of the design were done in person in order to make quick adjustments and to make sure they were feasible for Bujar to make.

We will get to watch these benches over time—to hear what people think of them and see how well they hold up. It has been encouraging that people ask for them to be placed near their homes, and that the school places them in front of its gate for parents to sit while they wait for their kids to get let out of class.