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Trippy transit benches that withstand sits, leans and etchings

By Alissa Walker, Good
SEPTA's 8th Street Station houses sculptural, durable benches, meant to make sitting easier and vandalism more difficult.
SEPTA's 8th Street Station houses sculptural, durable benches, meant to make sitting easier and vandalism more difficult.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The wire-based seats provide places for passengers to sit or lean
  • The rippling surfaces discourage sleeping, since no surface is flat enough
  • A year after installation, the benches aren't seeing a lot of wear-and-tear
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(Good) -- As any public transit rider will agree, the worst part of waiting for any train or bus has to be taking a seat on that grungy, funky public transit bench.

So that's why fabricators at Veyko in Philadelphia decided to reinvent the typical molded-plastic afterthought into a sculptural, durable centerpiece of one of Philly's SEPTA stations. Looking almost like a mushed Slinky, the wire-based seats provide plenty of places for passengers to take a load off, but they don't give would-be vandals much room to paint or etch their messages to future riders.

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According to a story at The Architect's Newspaper, Veyko had two goals in mind for the benches: to create a piece that was resistant to vandalism and damage, but to also better serve riders and the way they use seats.

They noticed that people were likely to sit or lean on the benches, hence the presence of both lower conventional seating, and platforms at more of a bar height. The rippling surfaces also discourage sleeping since no surface is flat enough for an entire person to snuggle up.

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To prevent damage, a series of 5/6-inch stainless steel wires were placed just close enough together to be comfortable, but in a way that, say, someone's abandoned Frappucino could still easily pass through the wires instead of pooling up in the seat. A video demonstrates how a computer numerical control (CNC) wire-bending machine pushed the wire into a specific angle to create the undulating curves.

A year after installation, these benches aren't seeing the same wear-and-tear of the typical transit bench, which often have to be repainted or resurfaced. The designers are now looking at taking their concept public by launching a line of urban furniture.

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