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Beyond Seating: Benches Build Community

UW News

sitting on bench

Picture a bench. Maybe you imagine the wooden seat of a picnic table, the metal of a bus shelter, the plastic of a school cafeteria.

Different materials, different locations, same basic purpose: to welcome more than one person.

This spring quarter, in Architecture 231: Making and Meaning, that was the essential mission of the culminating project: Build a bench, create a social opportunity.

“Architecture is taking an idea and turning it into a reality that someone can experience,” said co-instructor Jim Nicholls.

And so, this month, there were some two dozen benches, scattered around both Gould Hall and Architecture Hall in a pop-up demonstration of student work. There were benches with backs, with ramps, with steps and shelves and swings. Benches in the shape of an L, or a C, or an ocean wave. Nicholls encouraged students to find places that were underused, or even overused, and “help them out with a bench.”

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