A Bench Is For Sitting?

  • More fresh ideas from Copenhagen. If you associate a traditional bench in the Danish capital with kissing teenagers, a sleeping homeless guy, or an old lady feeding pigeons, it is about time for you to go exploring. It seems like times when benches were only benches and just had the function of providing people an opportunity to relax, have come to an end. If you visit Islands Brygge in Copenhagen, you will find what is claimed to be the first interactive bench in the world. Behind the project are the Danish architects of MAPT in collaboration with interaction designer Sune Petersen.

    The idea for the bench derives from MAPT’s fascination with playful and communicative public spaces. As the restoration of a parking garage was completed the municipality of Copenhagen invited MAPT to reactivate the urban space above. During daytime the bench resembles a common sight of Copenhagen’s streets, the traditional bench, but as it gets dark it is brought to life. A computer activates its colorful interface and the bench starts communicating with its users and people passing by — “it lights up and lures with play”.

    “The bench has three different games. One game is a painting game. You paint colors on the bench without using actual paint but simply by moving your hand around on the bench. When the bench is left alone it displays the ‘paintings’, which have been made. These ‘paintings’ will also be displayed on the bench’s own Facebook profile. The second game requires more physical activity. Each board on the bench is lit up by a flashing bar code. The faster you run past the bench the more acceleration will be displayed on each board. The last game is primarily for adults, since it requires patience. When you sit down on the bench, you will see different light particles curiously approaching where you sit. They come closer and closer, and when they hit you they create a sea of light. ‘The Playful Bench’ can be explored every day when darkness falls, and is active daily from 5 pm to 10 pm. The urban space where the bench can be found is situated in Leifsgade on the stretch between Bergthoragade and Gunløgsgade.”