Skystation: A Sculptural Bench Redefining Public Spaces

Peter Newman's Award-Winning Design Merges Art and Functionality

Skystation, a sculptural bench designed by Peter Newman, is an interactive public art installation that encourages contemplation of the sky and sparks conversations among strangers. Inspired by modernist principles and the human form, this unique design has been recognized with a prestigious Silver A' Street and City Furniture Design Award.

The concept for Skystation was inspired by the LC4 chaise-longue by Le Corbusier, Perriand, and Jeanneret, as well as the modernist idea that form follows function. Newman's design encourages upward gazing, a gesture he associates with optimism and future-thinking. The bench's contours are designed to fit the reclining human form, similar to what NASA refers to as the Neutral Body Posture - the shape the body naturally assumes when free from the influence of gravity. This design invites pause, reflection, and interaction within the public realm.

Skystation is constructed from cast aluminium bronze with a brushed satin finish, a material chosen for its longevity and resistance to corrosion. The six segments of the sculpture were sand cast and precision cut, then assembled on a stainless steel sub-structure on site. The final dimensions of the installation are 4100mm x 4100mm x 675mm, accommodating up to 12 people at a time.

While the design was created with adults in mind, children have found inventive ways to interact with the shape. The sculpture's presence in public spaces has been shown to have a positive impact, serving as a place-making element and encouraging social interaction. The golden disk of the Skystation introduces a warm tone among the cool steel that characterises the Canary Wharf district in London, where it is permanently installed.

Real-world research was conducted with life-size seating profiles, tested by a large number of volunteers, to ensure the design would be comfortable for a wide range of people. Fibreglass prototypes of the finished sculpture were installed in various public locations, further demonstrating the positive impact of introducing an interactive sculpture into the public realm.

Overcoming the challenge of realizing the design as a permanent installation required the selection of a material that would last and was in keeping with the aesthetic of the work. The choice of aluminium bronze, a material used in marine environments due to its resistance to corrosion, seemed fitting for the redeveloped wharf of London. The resulting golden disk also carries symbolic associations with the sun and the sky dating back to antiquity.

In conclusion, Skystation is more than just a bench; it's an interactive sculpture that invites contemplation, sparks conversations, and enhances public spaces. Its award-winning design, inspired by modernist principles and the human form, serves as a testament to Peter Newman's innovative approach to public art and design.

Project Details and Credits

Project Designers: Peter Newman
Image Credits: Image #1: Photographer Peter Newman, Skystation 2022 Image #2: Photographer Peter Newman, Skystation 2022 Image #3: Photographer Peter Newman, Skystation 2022 Image #4: Photographer Peter Newman, Skystation 2022 Image #5: Photographer Google Landsat / Copernicus, Canary Wharf 2022
Project Team Members: Peter Newman
Project Name: Skystation
Project Client: Peter Newman

Skystation IMG #2
Skystation IMG #3
Skystation IMG #4
Skystation IMG #5
Skystation IMG #5

Read More on Design Radiant