In almost all major cities, municipal governments and professionals spend a lot of effort in designing public facilities and facelifting the urban landscape. But the results are often far from satisfactory. Many public facilities fail to satisfy user needs and are eventually underutilized, causing a waste of resources. What if we can bring up an open management model and let citizens modify existing public facilities or even utility infrastructure? Hack-a-bench is a park bench reappropriation project in Aldrich Bay Park, Hong Kong launched by designers Dylan Kwok and Hinz Pak. By bestowing citizens the right to alter public facilities, the process has democratized the privilege to define our cityscape which was once exclusive for professionals.
As elucidated by the project name, Hack-a-bench encourages citizens to rig up their ideal bench by modifying existing ones. In this first-round engagement, the designer duo take the helm and realize the wildest dreams of surveyed park users. The end product is a set of 10 ergonomic and sinuous benches that will stay in the park for at least 3 years. Hack-a-bench is part of “City Dress Up: Seats Together”, a government-funded commission project by the Arts Promotion Office (APO) inviting 20 local designers to produce new park benches for 20 parks in Hong Kong, in celebration of the 20th anniversary of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.
Instead of parachuting new “designer benches” into the park that don’t match the existing seating style and environment, Kwok and Pak have turned this bench design commission into a modification experiment. Tucked in a peaceful neighborhood, Aldrich Bay Park is a pleasant and award-winning park designed by the city’s Architectural Services Department. “When we were invited to design new benches for the park, what struck us was there was a plethora of benches already. 60 seats actually. But most were underutilized – owing to unfavorable design or positioning that didn’t address user needs. That’s why we’ve decided to alter existing benches instead.” says Kwok.
City Dress Up: Seats Together
“City Dress Up: Seats Together”, a government-funded commission project by the Arts Promotion Office (APO) inviting 20 local designers to produce new park benches for 20 parks in Hong Kong, in celebration of the 20th anniversary of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.
hack-a-bench artist duo
Designers Dylan Kwok & Hinz Pak
In the project, Dylan and Hinz has conducted a few design engagement exercises and interviews at the park. The team emphasized design the new benches with the community / users of the park. The new design hacks focus on the sitting postures, facing direction, number and different types of users in the park.
The team has “hacked” / redesigned 10 of the current benches. The project has taken users by surprise with simple twists and modifications to the conventional park furniture design. Transforming a generic artistic motif into new social clusters throughout the park, the artwork strives to maintain the overall architectural harmony of this award-winning park.