Who Wants to Bench? – a call for proposals


The Call for Proposals

The People have Spoken! 180 people used a game of Who Wants to Be to decide to commission a ‘democracy bench’. download the commission brief here!


On the 7th November 2008, 180 people paid £10 each, and gathered in the Unicorn Theatre, London Bridge, to decide what to do with £1800 of their box office takings in a game of Who Wants to Be…? – the ‘ask the audience’ game show. You can read about that here.

After much discussion and many ideas, they decided to use the money to commission a ‘democracy bench’ for a London park. This is the call for proposals. If you think you can design and build a bench for £1700 – please make a submission! If you know anyone who might be interested – please let them know!

The Brief

You can download the brief here (and forward it to people who might be interested!
The brief is very open – the audience wanted a ‘democracy bench’ in a London park, which could mean many things. They also mentioned commemorating the event with a brass plaque bearing audience member’s names, but that’s just an idea. Your bench might encourage them to talk, vote or to sit and reflect on their civic duties… Democracy is the theme, but your bench might be a satirical anti-democracy political statement – seating 2 people or 200 people. It’s up to you.


If it’s meant for a London Park, materials should be very durable – unless you want it to bio-degrade or something. In any case, please be considered about the materials you choose.


London Borough of Southwark has very helpfully agreed to house the bench in the beautiful Chumleigh Gardens, an historic and much­loved public space, so do read up on it for further inspiration read about the park, or look at some pics.



We have raised £1800 for the commission, but don’t let that cramp your creativity. If your design is really great, but will cost more – tell us and perhaps we can raise it.

How to apply

Please send us an application to bench@whowantstobe.co.uk , including the following:

  • A description of your bench, mentioning your approach to the requirements, materials and any location details.
  • Please outline a budget – how much will which bits cost? Perhaps we can help with some in-kind support so let us know what you need to make it happen.
  • Tell us about yourself! Are you the right person to make this bench? Have you got any experience of doing stuff like this before?
  • Any images, links, drawing, video or other supplementary materials describing your bench.

If you would prefer to send hard copies, mail or bring them to:

Bench Commission
c/o The People Speak
17-25 Cremer St.
London E9 5PH


Timetable and selection process

What happens next: Once all the applications are in, each person who donated their £10 will be able to discuss and vote on their favourite benches in an online poll. The winner will be announced at the end of March. You can then follow the progress, design, build and installation of the bench on this website.

If you have any comments or questions, please contact us.

Audience members!

If you didn’t give us your email addresses, please contact us and we will give you voting privileges on the commission judging website. If you have any further comments, requests, or ideas, please feel free to post them as comments below, and you can vote on your favourite comments and ideas – to help the bench designers with their applications!

11 Responses to “Who Wants to Bench? – a call for proposals”

  1. Gabriel Norland says:

    Hi there,

    I was in the audience on the 7th. Right at the end of the night, the idea was thrown up that we should get our bench on the fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square. And then, one of the last comments made was by a man who told us that he knows the lady who plans what goes on the plinth, so we’ve got a good chance, he said.


    I want to know who’s with me? And where that bloke is who knows the fourth plinth lady?!!!

    Nice one to you guys at ThePS by the way, my friends and I really had a great time and I’ll be spreading the word for your next event x

  2. Wai-Yee Chan says:

    I have a suggestion for an artist. Friedel Buecking, I dont know him pesonally but love the stuff that is out on show in Gabriels warf.


  3. Andy Gibson says:

    Hello. I believe I am ‘that bloke who knows the fourth plinth lady’. 🙂

    The fourth plinth lady informs me that the next Fourth Plinth commission is Anthony Gormley, who’s proposed putting members of the public on there:
    http://www.london.gov.uk/fourthplinth/plinth/gormley.jsp There will be an application process then people will be chosen at random and given slots at random. Details will be posted on fourthplinth.co.uk but nothing is up yet.

    The following commission will be Yinka Shonibare:

    After that, if it continues, there will be another longlist which would be put together by the commissioning group – so essentially it’s by invitation. Borough councils will probably choose community groups and invite them to produce or propose work.

    I wouldn’t get too hung up on this, there’s a lot of process involved and we need to focus on doing our own commissioning rather than getting a commission from them – but if build it, perhaps they will come…

  4. Ant Ince says:

    Good suggestions everyone. i wonder if the fourth plinth is a little too temporary. i’d really like to be able to sit on our bench over the years.

    The circular bench pictured above would be excellent, inexpensive and i’m sure a nice local council would be happy to have a bunch of strangers pay for such a nice bench in one of their parks (they might also like the publicity it creates). My vote would go to the permanent park bench. Cheers 🙂

  5. saul says:

    Interesting you should say that Ant – I just got a call from the parks manager at Southwark Council (where the Unicorn Theater is based). They heard about the event and the commission – and would like to talk about siting the democracy bench in ‘Chumley Gardens’: http://www.opensquares.org/detail/index.html?../detail/Chumleigh.html – which is having a new community garden built in the next year or so.

    But there’s no reason that the bench couldn’t be sited on the 4th plinth temporarily, then moved to Chumleigh Gardens for posterity…

    The Chumleigh Gardens user group are meeting on the 8th December to discuss the idea, so I’ll report back then, and we’ll have to extend the deadline for the call for proposals!

  6. Gabriel Norland says:

    Nice one Saul,

    I live in Camberwell, if our bench was to be place in Chumleigh Gardens I could visit it on a regular basis! Look forward to hearing the report from the group meeting . . .

  7. Matan says:

    Sorry for not showing up before…I like the Chumleigh Garden location!
    Any news on bench designs?

  8. saul says:

    After a slow start there have been some real corkers already. Should I put them online already? It seemed more fair to wait until the 1st March to put them up, but I guess it wouldn’t hurt as long as voting isn’t allowed yet.

    What do people think about that?



  9. Tyler & Anna says:

    Put them up, put them up. Not that we’re impatient little kiddie winks or anything.

  10. Phil says:

    Agreed, let’s have something to start looking at, peruse and discuss but not enable any actual voting yet until the deadline is up

  11. Tyler says:

    1st March has come and gone. I can’t wait to see what was proposed. Any ideas as to when they’ll be up for voting purposes?

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