The park bench is an oft-overlooked piece of furniture in our local parks and gardens. Generally dirty, wet, uncomfortable, or a combination of all three, the typical bench does not get much love. Even more so, we tend to view this design relic as merely a place to sit down and do some good people watching instead of imagining its other potential uses, namely water conservation.
To help meet the water needs of India’s largest city, Shanghai-based MARS Architects created a bench that collects and stores rainwater, and is dropping it in parks across bustling Mumbai.
Modeled after an antique Chesterfield sofa, the Water Bench is an oblong-shaped seat with tufted seams that serve to guide the water to the special drainage “buttons.” The bench comes in a variety of colors, ranging from a muted aubergine to a neon pink. Crafted from partially recycled polyethylene, each bench is hollowed out to hold internal water tanks that can be emptied to irrigate small gardens and plots of land. The tanks come in different sizes for specific scenarios, starting with a 500-liter one for a personal garden and going up to a 1,500-liter capacity for a public park.
These benches not only exemplify sustainable urban design but also allow city dwellers to gain independence at a local level – taking matters into their own hands instead of relying on India’s dwindling public water supply.