Benches are one of the most popular seating options for public spaces, particularly in outdoor settings. Bench seats are a bit more flexible than chairs, offering more seating space and added utility. Commercial park benches also have an advantage when it comes to having limitless design options. Park benches certainly don't need to be boring or plain. Designers can get very creative while still maintaining superior durability and beauty by using a material like modified wood.
Here are five outdoor bench ideas to spur inspiration for your next project.
1. Artistic yet functional bench design
(Furniture for Waterfront Regeneration, by Goose Foot & Freshwest Design)
Too many outdoor spaces have typical commercial outdoor benches that are plain in design and only serve a utilitarian function. Though there certainly isn't anything wrong with the quintessential basic bench, it is a missed opportunity to bring a more artistic feel to an otherwise stark or empty space.
A perfect example of this is the bench display featured above, located on the Colwyn Bay promenade. This series of benches offers 10 different seating spots with a few different individual designs. Some benches allow for relaxed, reclined seating while others allow visitors to lay completely back and perhaps soak up a little sun. A few of the benches also offer back-to-back seating, one facing the water with the other facing away.
Being quite close to water, modified wood was the perfect material choice for these benches. This ensures that these benches will stand strong even with consistent moisture exposure and high winds. Additionally, the smoothness of modified wood allows for a more comfortable, splinter-free area to lounge on.
2. Innovative bench design with movable seat
(Cantilevered Bench, by StokkeAustad)
Another (literal) twist on traditional commercial benches is the Cantilevered Bench designed by StokkeAustad. This bench is certainly eye-catching, with its contrast of wood and concrete along with a bold touch of color. This cantilevered bench has a movable seat that swivels around its concrete base. Once the user has positioned the seat where they'd like it to be, they simply fasten into position.
The innovative bench seat uses Kebony Clear wood for comfort and aesthetic appeal, along with a steel frame around the wood and swivel, which is available in a wide range of colors. Although StokkeAustad offers this bench for sale, this unique seating can serve as inspiration for your own ideas for movable benches.
3. Breathe new life into historically significant benches
(Niagara Parks, by North on Sixty, photo by Todd Fraser Photography)
Parks and outdoor areas that have some type of historical significance might find it tricky to decide what to do with damaged or aged outdoor park benches. The bench shown above, located in Niagara Parks, is a perfect example of how the right material can make historical renovation possible.
These beautiful benches were reconstructed using Kebony wood to recreate the intricate shapes of the original wood slats. As you can see, the use of Kebony blends in perfectly well with this bench's design, only enhancing its elegant look. Additionally, using modified wood ensures that this bench is going to stand strong for many years to come and outlast any other wood material.
4. Expansive geometric bench as versatile park seating
(Active Edge Park Bench, by Urban Elements, photo by Simon Meyer)
When you think of a bench you often think of an extended seat for two or three people to sit on, however, this stunning design, called the Active Edge park bench, demonstrates a creative way to break from that tradition.. This huge bench/platform is about 312 feet in length and made of Kebony modified wood, which will eventually age to an even more eye-catching and beautiful silver-gray as time goes by.
The Active Edge park bench is located in Denmark and was designed as one of three major elements of a new green urban park. The unusual geometric design of this bench flows beautifully along the park edge and offers a bit of a playful touch. As seen in the background, there are also classic metal benches for those who wish for a more traditional seating option. The overall size and width of the Active Edge bench is enticing for children and youth to climb around on but also a perfect place to lay back and lounge on in the sun.
5 Create an inviting social setting with terraced benches
(The Apollo, by Landscape Architect Bureau, photo by Sean O’Rourke Photography)
This take on commercial outdoor bench seating is actually located atop the Apollo Apartment building in Washington D.C., rather than a public park setting. However, the terraced bench design is especially inviting for any social space, making this a perfect addition as cozier seating away from the main pool area.
The terrace allows people to choose where they'd like to sit without restriction. This allows for private conversations but still feels very social as many are able to sit among the three levels. The bottom two terraces are also ideal for those that wish to rest back on the terrace step and relax. This terraced design is especially at home in public outdoor areas that are more casual and want to create a sense of community.
Wood outdoor park benches will always be a classic addition to any outdoor space, whether it's a public park or a private apartment complex for tenants. As you can see from the featured examples, there is no shortage of ideas on how benches can be designed and incorporated into a variety of settings. When planning your next project, consider ways in which the benches will not only serve a purpose as seating, but also how they may be designed to bring a touch of style and interest to your property.