urbanism – landscape – ideas – theory – whimsy

A plea for more seating

Improvised Seating

With summer fast approaching, we’ll be seeing more and more people out on the streets, hanging out, talking, eating their lunches and generally enjoying being outside – as Canadians tend to do when fine weather brings us out of winter’s clutches. But where are they doing all these things? Surely we’re not all standing around on street corners, loitering in front of doorways or squatted on the pavement?

No, it’s this time of year when finding a plum bench or seat in a nice location at lunch time is something like trolling the streets looking for a parking space. But is the culprit just too many people in a concentrated area all out at the same time, or is it really that we have a sadly deficient amount of seating in public areas in Toronto? And I don’t just mean benches – seating walls, stairs, ledges, chairs, window wells – people will sit on almost any horizontal surface within reach (as the couple in the photo above show in such intimate fashion).

It certainly seems as though in many of the most bustling parts of the city there are hardly any places to sit along streets or at intersections where all the action is happening. I hope that we can improve on the current situation in future, and sincerely hope that the current transformation of Toronto’s waterfront will provide ample (nay, over-ample!) seating of every kind and for every occasion.

Photo: Couple seated in a wall along Balmuto Ave opposite the Manulife Centre

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Yeah I noticed that today with my friend whilst looking around for a place to sit. It’s absurd, there should be benches everywhere to encourage people to spend time in public space but instead it’s ridiculously hard to ever see a bench anywhere, except in parks if you’re lucky. Plus, in the U of T campus, for instance, most of the surfaces that are ostensibly for sitting are merely a slab of concrete and have no backrest section, and thus are uncomfortable as all hell. Who designs this nonsense?

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