Granary Square Benches

Ian McChesney, London, 2015

 

Subscribe now to instantly view this image

Subscribe to the Architects’ Journal (AJ) for instant access to the AJ Buildings Library, an online database of nearly 2,000 exemplar buildings in photographs, plans, elevations and details.

Already a subscriber? Sign in

 

Ian McChesney     Download Original

  •     
  •     
  •     
  •     
  •     
  •     
  •     
  •     
  •     
  •     
  •     
  •     
  •     
  • Apparatus for turning the bench over    
  • Bench pieces    
  •     
  •     
  •     
  •     
  •     
  •     
  •     
  •     
  •     
  •     

A commission for a set of eight giant benches for Granary Square King’s Cross.

This was a commission for a set of eight giant benches for Granary Square King’s Cross. The benches are arranged in a formal arrangement of facing pairs around four existing fountain pools. Carved in granite each is 8m long by 1.2m deep and weighs around 4 tonnes.

The benches are carved in Cornubian coarse biotite granite from an area near the De Lank River in St Breward in Cornwall. The material is renowned for its silver grey appearance and strength. Cornish Grey Granite has been used throughout the last century on projects such as the Thames Embankment 1864-74; Tower Bridge 1887-89 and more recently the Princess Diana Memorial Fountain.

The aesthetic of the benches borrows from the eroded quality of naturally occurring granite boulders resulting in smooth, curvaceous and comfortable forms. We’d been looking a lot at granite rock forms in the landscape and the way that they had been slowly carved and polished by the elements over millions of years and wanted to borrow something from this aesthetic.

The benches were designed in collaboration with Tim Lucas of Price and Myers. The main challenge was to create sufficient reinforcement in the bench seats to prevent collapse at the centre. Each is manufactured from five individually machined blocks connected together with a combination of adhesive and five tension bars tightened to forces of 11 to 13 tonnes each. This tensioning means that the granite is always acting in compression allowing each bench to withstand high pedestrian loads.
he benches were manufactured using state of the art computer controlled saws and routers. In total the project absorbed over 800 hours of machining time. The benches were delivered on four pantechnicon trucks and lifted into position using a 40 tonne street crane.

A video of the manufacturing process is available at https://vimeo.com/129562350

Data

  • Begun: May 2014
  • Completed: Apr 2015
  • Floor area: 69m2
  • Sectors: Public realm, Landscape design
  • Total cost: £245,544
  • Tender date: Mar 2014
  • Procurement: Bespoke
  • Address: Granary Square, King's Cross, London, N1C 4AA, United Kingdom