The Beauty of Benches

Today I’m sharing some photos that I took last spring of park benches along Hamilton Street near Central Park in downtown Regina.  I figured that those in Regina might appreciate a little bit of sunny escapism while they try to stay warm.

While walking one of my common routes home from work this spring, I spotted two benches/sitting areas on 2100 block Hamilton Street and was surprised that I hadn’t noticed them before – it always amazes me how easily you can miss things when you fall into certain habits.

In general benches/sitting areas are a really nice way to encourage people to use the streetscape as a casual meeting place in addition to a mode of transportation.  They are small community builders that encourage people to linger and animate the sidewalk, not just get from A to B.  In this case, it is particularly nice that the benches are set back from the sidewalk with paving stones to delineate the different uses and greenery to soften the paved landscape.

After I became more aware of these benches, I saw lots of people making good use of them throughout the day and evening – chatting with friends, reading, eating lunch.  And later in the summer, when the trees filled out, these spaces were even better as they offered a place to cool down.

I’d love to see the shrubs and vegetation grow to the height of the fence in the background, almost making these little park spaces feel like small sitting rooms.

Do you have favourite nooks and crannies like this around the city?  What are some other small community builders that you’ve noticed? Let us know!

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The Beauty of Benches

2 thoughts on “The Beauty of Benches

  1. wourliem says:

    What interests me about your piece is you make no mention of the parking lot behind the bench. I like to imagine that you forgot about it in the background. I found while reading the post and looking at the pictures I too was not quickly aware of the parking behind the wall. The screening of the parking lot not only involves plant and fencing but uses, an eating, meeting, reading and waiting space.

    I know, from holding long conversations on the street how uncomfortable people feel doing anything on sidewalks other than moving. Static pedestrians mid block are like midfield generals glancing, preoccupied, for on coming opponents, at every angle. The great accomplishment of simple paving stones and bench is how it unconsciously separation rest and motion uses. The sitting area allows people to linger in the public realm.

    The nook that came to my mind is a well-known Cathedral rest stop, the steps of Westminster United Church on 13th Avenue.

    1. Martin – you are very right. I didn’t talk about the parking here because it doesn’t stand out or breakup the pedestrian realm (if there were a driveway that came out right by these benches that would change the situation).

      Now that you mention it – it’s actually quite clever how they have separated these uses and put parking in the back (keeping with the older style of development common in the Centre Block area). These benches (and the activity that they encourage) create the continuity that storefronts would.

      The Westminster steps are another great example of places for pedestrians to collect and linger!

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