The Sitting Walls

Ash seating, interactive LED lighting
Robert Blake and Elmwood Secondary School, Bridgwater, 2012
Commissioned by Somerset County Council (SCC); Contractor: BAM; Facilitator: RIO

In 2009 we were appointed as Lead Artists to develop artworks for a new BSF secondary school in Bridgwater, Somerset.  Over a period of three years we worked with the schools, the design team and the developer BAM, to integrate a number of artworks and design solutions into the fabric of the new school. Our appointment as Lead Artists at the initial stages of the project meant that the artworks were able to be embedded within the process at a very early stage.

The idea for The Sitting Walls evolved out of a process of consultation with the student panel made up from pupils from Robert Blake and Elmwood School.  Both schools were keen to have chill-out spaces that they could relax and feel safe in and which were personal to them as students in terms of form and colour.  The final forms for the seating were developed through a series of workshops that involved students in model making, photography, projection and drawing around their own bodies.

The Sitting Walls have been hand-built from hundreds of ash slats and are integrated beneath the two main staircases of the new school. Each sitting area has been individually designed for each school and so the curved forms for each are different. Concealed interactive LED lighting creates a wash of changing coloured lighting on the back wall and recessed down lighters create pools of warm light.

The School opened in November 2012 and the feedback from staff and students has been extremely positive.