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The New Benches of Athens

14 July 2010 / 07:07:22  GRReporter
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Love and eternal friendship confessions, names of football teams and favorite rock bands – these are few of the inscriptions that we see on the benches in Athens, and not only, parks. A thick pen or cans are enough to arm the hand of the inspired writer. But things are changing. And benches that look like walls of messages are preparing to be replaced by new ones.

Modern times require modern benches, with Data Matrix technology implemented. Typical example is the bench of the 27-year-old designer Aris Stathis who won the first prize in the international competition organized by the Athens city hall. His proposal called “mybench.gr” combines classic lines with the latest technologies. It has a bicycle stand as people ride bicycles more often now. Here’s how he describes his idea:

“The bench is functional and ergonomic, the specifications of design and placement are environment friendly, it is effective from aesthetical point of view and innovative thanks to the Data Matrix technology implemented. It is designed in vintage style with more dynamic lines and, although the materials used are similar to those used so far, the specifics of design and placement reduces carbon pollution. However, the innovation is the Data Matrix technology.  This is a kind of barcode, which can memorize the letters of the Latin alphabet. Each bench will have a Data Matrix saved address of a website where users can create profiles, write their comments, upload pictures and chat with each other.

According to the designer life in the big city has largely alienated the young people who definitely prefer to chat and play video games than to gather in the park and talk to each other, as in the past. So, he thinks that his proposal will make young people gather with friends in the park without having to deprive themselves of technology.

Konstantin Achkov and Borislav Kolev are two of the five Bulgarian participants in the contest. Here's what they told us about their ideas and experience of participation in the contest.  

Konstantin Achkov: “My idea was influenced from the ornamental meanders so typical for Athens. I wanted to create a bench module from this ancient heritage that has turned into a trademark of the area. Thus, the more modules are arranged, the longer frieze of meanders you have. Athens inspired me mostly for its ancient culture and the amazing art that ancient Athenians have left the world. However, I have not only studied it as a graduated sculpturer, but I copied the ancient samples for training purposes.

I’m always for contests. However, I am disappointed with the organization of this particular one. The vote for a project was allowed through a free registration and this vitiated and spoiled its level! Similar complicated solution to such a difficult matter can only be assessed by a professional.”

Borislav Kolev: “We had to prepare a project for furnishing of open areas at the university. I just took it and added my idea to prepare it for the competition. My idea is related to structural combinatorics. We study it at the university and it is quite important for the projects. How individual elements can be combined in different ways. Therefore, the project is called “Bench grouping”. Because I am a student at the Department of History and Theory of Architecture in relation to the conservation of architectural heritage, Athens impresses me with its rich history and monuments of architecture.
Such competitions certainly encourage competition. And I think that competitions should not be viewed only as a race, but as something you can learn from. Personally, I learned a lot from the projects of the other participants. Meaning of contests and competitions is not only to determine who is the best and most approved, but to help all participants to learn more things.”

The competition involved 585 candidates from China, USA, Brazil, Italy, Spain, Ireland, Great Britain, Georgia, Ukraine, Holland, Germany, Israel, Greece and Bulgaria. The selection was made through the Internet as everyone could vote after registering on the web page of the contest. The site was visited by 274,702 users from 133 countries and 28,000 registered users gave their votes.

Tags: Bench contetsNine musesAttica
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