Competition-winning benches from Beijing and New York to join Winnipeg’s trail system

In its third year of the Benchmark Design Competition, Storefront Manitoba and the Winnipeg Trails Association announced two new bench designs as part of the 2019 edition of the competition. The new designs will be joining three other benches that were installed in previous years of the competition. The 2019 winning designs were selected from over a hundred submissions from around the world.

Artists, architects, landscape architects and designers were asked to reimagine the bench for two select sites along The Great Trail. The winning submissions celebrate each of the unique sites and will serve as icon’s along Winnipeg’s diverse trail system.

“This year’s Benchmark reached a new level. One hundred and four submissions from twenty-one different countries!” says Anders Swanson, Executive Director of the Winnipeg Trails Association. “I love how the winning installations ‘rethink the bench’ and raise issues of placemaking we often forget about: seeing through the eyes of a child again or the calm when you escape from the wind. The exciting outcome of the Benchmark project is seeing people interact with these unique installations that define new public spaces along our trails. We can’t wait.”

The two new benches of the 2019 edition of the Benchmark competition are:

Wall Chair by Li Jiapei, Tan Yeqian & Yang Hengyuan

Wall Chair by Li Jiapei, Tan Yeqian & Yang Hengyuan (Beijing, China)

Inspired by the existing rail bridge and the landscape of Sir John Franklin Park, this design aims to redefine these spaces. With a translucent wall of vertical steel members, the bench provides a new perspective for people to re-perceive their surroundings and the views inside and outside of the park.

Seesaw by Sylvia Choi and Daegeon Jeong

Seesaw by Sylvia Choi and Daegeon Jeong (Brooklyn, NY)

Seesaw draws inspiration from the layers of movement along the Northeast Pioneers Greenway: movements of the cars on the roundabout, bicycles on the bike lane, pedestrians on the sidewalk, meadow grasses blowing in the wind, birds flying above and the busy bugs in Bunn’s Creek. The Seesaw bench provides a new vertical movement to the site and playfully recalls one’s fond childhood memories.

Two projects received a special mention from the jury: Fluvial by Ronnie Kataki, Edward Wang & Jia Li Song of Nice One Projects (Cambridge, Massachusetts) and The Line by Sergi Viñals Musquera, Mariona Mayol Battle & Sergi Garcia Campmany of Hue Studio (Barcelona, Spain).

“This year, all of the submissions really embraced the challenge to reimagine the common bench and the jury was blown away by the level of talent and creativity,” says Suzy Melo, Benchmark Co-Curator, Storefront Manitoba. “They had to make some really tough choices and in the end managed to narrow it down to two bench designs. We are excited to work with the winning teams and look forward to bringing these new additions to our trail system this summer.”

Placemaking is an important aspect of transportation, recreation and city building. A design competition to spur creative placemaking ideas is an opportunity to permanently and continually raise awareness of the beauty of Winnipeg’s trails system while providing practical benefits to present and future users.

The benches will be unveiled in June 2019 and everyone will be welcome to meet the design teams and their creations.

Benchmark 2019 is made possible through the generous support of the City of Winnipeg, Trans Canada Trail, Trails Manitoba and the River East Neighborhood Network.