‘Barry Benches’ is a series of four sculptural seats, located in the new Barry Waterfront development, that tell the story of Barry docks unique and varied heritage. We developed a co-discovery process that involved members of the local community, schools and residents, working together to discover and identify key themes that helped informed the design of each bench.
Each unique and memorable ‘Barry Bench’ is carefully located across the Barry waterfront site, to further engage visitors and residents in its history. This new trail of colourful and sculptural art objects also helps improve site connectivity by encouraging people to move in and around the new development.
Through a series of interactive and creative workshops, the local community collectively identified themes that they felt best told the Barry Docks story. These included learners at Ysgol St Baruc Primary School, the residents at Golau Caredig Independent Residential Living and visitors of all ages to The Annual Scout & Guide Fete. Participants were asked to tell us what their fondest memories of Barry Docks were and the results were recorded both orally and through drawings. The final part of the process involved the design of a group of benches to tell these identified Barry Dock stories.
The first bench, named ‘Barry Boom’, remembers how in the 19th century, Barry Docks was one of the leading industrial ports on the planet. This ship like bench responds to a workshop participant remembering their being “so many ships, you could walk from ship to ship across the docks”. (Note: This bench will be installed at a later date once the site is completed)
The second bench, ‘G.I. Barry’ takes the form of an army Jeep and recalls how the US Army built a large camp, Camp G-40 for troops servicing the docks during World War 2.
‘Barry Scrapyard’ is the third bench and reminds us that from the late 1950’s, many obsolete railway wagons were scrapped and cut up near the site. One workshop participant remembered the ‘the little pink train in the train graveyard over the docks’ which informs the design of this bench.
The final bench, ‘Barry Banana’ celebrates how The Geest company used the docks to import West Indian bananas from the late 1950’s until the 1980s. A workshop participant remembered “eating fresh bananas off the ‘Geest’ boats” along with milk & sugar.
While the sculptural elements of each bench are formed from metal, the seat tops and backs are made from a stained accoya timber, which provides a ‘warmer’ more human-friendly surface for people to touch and sit on. Careful design details include slightly inclined seat backs and arm rests to enable ease of sitting for all ages. While each bench is the perfectly placed for people to relax and enjoy the view, the longer angled benches are also designed to invite conversations and social interactions between people.
Barratt Homes / Taylor Wimpey / Persimmon Homes
Barry Waterfront, Barry