There’s always something going on along London’s South Bank. Lining the River Thames from Westminster bridge to Blackfriars, it bustles with people and activity all year around. It’s home to some of London’s most popular attractions from the London Eye to the aquarium and National Theatre.

One of the prominent spaces in the area is London’s Southbank Centre. The huge arts area includes the Royal Festival Hall, Hayward Gallery and the Poetry Library. It’s the UK’s biggest arts centre with over 5,000 events taking place every year – with plenty on for families.

London's South Bank
Throughout 2017, the Southbank Centre has been showcasing Nordic art and influences in its Nordic Matters series. On a recent visit to the area, we stopped to take note of the bright orange benches which had taken over the front of the Southbank Centre and along the river.

These aren’t just any benches. But quirky, misshaped benches. The installation, entitled Modified Social Benches, is by Danish artist Jeppe Hein. The ten benches are part of 16 which have been exhibited in New York’s Brooklyn Park. The aim is to make people more aware of sitting by creating alternative seating spaces.

My daughter wasted no time in trying them out and testing the less conventional ways of sitting. Just as the artist intended.

This bench seemed to confuse a lot of people who simply wanted to rest their legs. Not Mrs T. She found a way to sit on it.

London South Bank Modified Social Benches

Stand on it.


And use it as a slide too (which she particularly enjoyed).

She attempted to make this curved bench into a slide too.

But it also doubled up as a makeshift bed.

The hammock-like quality to this bench made it irresistible to lie on.

While this bench provided a nice spot to ‘lean in’.

Mrs T had lots of fun experimenting with the benches (and posing for my photos) and there were plenty of others testing them too. A delightful addition to the area for the summer which has achieved one of its aims to help encourage interaction and create a fun and playful environment.London South Bank Centre

Some of the other Scandinavian art on show at the Southbank Centre include a magical interactive exhibition at the Adventures in Moominland. Exploring the life and work of Finnish children’s author Tove Jansson, it’s ideal for older children and adult fans of the series. Nell at Pigeon Pair and Me enjoyed the experience so much she went twice!

There’s also the opportunity to learn Swedish songs and get crafty as well as watch the Scandinavian circus, Cirkus Cirkor.

The Southbank centre is also offering a weekly Pram Jam for pre-schoolers with singing, dancing and stories. Live performances by Nigerian rap artist BREIS will be taking places as part of Poetry Utopia. Visit the website to discover the full programme of activities.

The South Bank is always a delight to wander along and the Modified Social Benches certainly helped to brighten and enlighten us, and others, as we went about our day.

Have you been to the Southbank Centre? What’s your favourite attraction along the South Bank?

Wander Mum

43 Comments on Nordic Bench Fun At London’s Southbank Centre 

  1. Wilbur
    July 18, 2017 at 7:06 am (3 months ago)

    They don’t look overly comfortable but very striking indeed. Enjoy the summer. Wilbur #citytripping

    Reply
    • Wander Mum
      July 24, 2017 at 11:21 pm (3 months ago)

      You too Wilbur. Have a good one.

      Reply
  2. Lolo
    July 18, 2017 at 9:04 am (3 months ago)

    Cute city benches! They certainly add a bit of spice to visiting London! My hometown here in Germany needs more benches, and at the moment, they are building ugly, boring wood box benches which in my opinion don’t encourage taking a seat and enjoying your surroundings! #CityTripping
    Lolo recently posted…Mesmerized by the Luxurious Sveti Stefan, MontenegroMy Profile

    Reply
    • Wander Mum
      July 18, 2017 at 2:12 pm (3 months ago)

      Oooh no, they don’t sound very inspiring! Get your paintbrush out! Hehe

      Reply
  3. Baby Loves Travel
    July 18, 2017 at 9:23 am (3 months ago)

    These benches look really fun! I haven’t walked along the South Bank for ages, despite working nearby, I must get down there again #citytripping

    Reply
    • Wander Mum
      July 18, 2017 at 2:13 pm (3 months ago)

      Oh you must! Always something going on and I love looking out onto the river.

      Reply
  4. Milly
    July 18, 2017 at 10:44 am (3 months ago)

    I didn’t know about these! I don’t get down to the South Bank anywhere near as much as I’d like, will have to go check these pops of colour out for sure. #Citytripping

    Reply
    • Wander Mum
      July 18, 2017 at 2:14 pm (3 months ago)

      Aren’t they fun! You should try and pop down sometime x

      Reply
    • Wander Mum
      July 18, 2017 at 2:15 pm (3 months ago)

      For sure!! They do a good job of getting in there, exploring and helping us to see things a little differently.

      Reply
  5. Umberta
    July 18, 2017 at 11:30 am (3 months ago)

    These benches are really funny! But maybe people don’t sit on them as they think they’re part of an art installation..
    Umberta recently posted…Festival d’AvignonMy Profile

    Reply
    • Wander Mum
      July 18, 2017 at 2:16 pm (3 months ago)

      I went past again this weekend and they were pretty busy…mainly with children but great to see people getting stuck in!

      Reply
    • Wander Mum
      July 24, 2017 at 11:23 pm (3 months ago)

      You’re welcome. The South Bank has a lot to offer! There were lots of kids making the most of those benches. Great idea!

      Reply
    • Wander Mum
      July 24, 2017 at 11:26 pm (3 months ago)

      Thank you! She loves her accessories! The others may still be in Brooklyn…

      Reply
  6. Rachel
    July 18, 2017 at 1:27 pm (3 months ago)

    They’re such a cheerful colour! I like the reasoning behind all the zany designs, although as I find the south bank quite a tiring place I might have got a bit fed up with the ones you can’t really sit on! In general though I love art installations like this. Such a fun way to see the city in a new light.
    Rachel recently posted…Our hotels in Thailand & Indonesia reviewed – would I go back?My Profile

    Reply
    • Wander Mum
      July 24, 2017 at 11:25 pm (3 months ago)

      Very true. Hehe…I thought that the other day when I went past and all the benches were occupied …except the triangular one which is tricky to sit on. There were some confused faces!

      Reply
  7. Keri | Ladies What Travel
    July 18, 2017 at 2:49 pm (3 months ago)

    You know, I don’t think I’ve ever visited the South Bank, crazy, huh?! Sounds like it’s got lots to offer and lovely to see it caters for kids too. These benches are pretty cool, although don’t look all that comfy! 😉 #citytripping
    Keri | Ladies What Travel recently posted…The Best Of Oslo In 3 DaysMy Profile

    Reply
    • Wander Mum
      July 24, 2017 at 11:27 pm (3 months ago)

      Hope you get to go someday. Lots going on there!

      Reply
  8. Kat @anaussieinsf
    July 18, 2017 at 2:58 pm (3 months ago)

    I used to love strolling along the Southbank when I was broke and wanted to get out of the house. Those benches look like tonnes of fun, I especially like the slide idea.
    And I’m intrigued by the idea of the Scandinavian circus and learning Swedish songs!
    Kat @anaussieinsf recently posted…Californian road trip must-see townsMy Profile

    Reply
    • Wander Mum
      July 26, 2017 at 12:00 am (3 months ago)

      Hehe – So am I!

      Reply
  9. Nicky Williams
    July 18, 2017 at 3:03 pm (3 months ago)

    Love these. Will definitely have a look when up in London next week. I’m sure my three will find many ways to use them!

    Reply
    • Wander Mum
      July 24, 2017 at 11:27 pm (3 months ago)

      Definitely! Lots of fun to be had with them!

      Reply
  10. Hilary
    July 18, 2017 at 4:30 pm (3 months ago)

    How fun and they’re so vibrant! I love art installations like this, where you can interact with the art! I wonder where the benches will head next? #citytripping
    Hilary recently posted…DIY: Skateboard DecksMy Profile

    Reply
    • Wander Mum
      July 26, 2017 at 12:01 am (3 months ago)

      Yes, me too, love the interaction! Not sure…maybe they will make their way near you one day!

      Reply
  11. Elizabeth
    July 18, 2017 at 8:58 pm (3 months ago)

    Those benches are so cool! And I love that there are so many activities for toddlers/preschoolers there. I wish there was something going on near where I live!

    Reply
    • Wander Mum
      July 24, 2017 at 11:28 pm (3 months ago)

      It’s a great space which caters so well for kids! Very lucky

      Reply
  12. Zenbabytravel
    July 18, 2017 at 10:56 pm (3 months ago)

    Great fun all that testing, on our list as well, thanks for sharing! 😉 #Citytripping

    Reply
    • Wander Mum
      July 25, 2017 at 11:59 pm (3 months ago)

      Lots of fun to be had! Enjoy!!

      Reply
    • Wander Mum
      July 24, 2017 at 11:29 pm (3 months ago)

      Awww thank you! She loved exploring…I’m sure I wouldn’t have been quite so imaginative either!!

      Reply
    • Wander Mum
      July 25, 2017 at 12:03 pm (3 months ago)

      Thank you. She had fun!

      Reply
  13. TraveLynn Family - Jenny
    July 19, 2017 at 6:03 pm (3 months ago)

    These benches are so very cool! I love how they create a place to encourage people to stop and take in their surroundings. Looks like you’re little one had lots of fun with them! #citytripping
    TraveLynn Family – Jenny recently posted…Kochi with kids: top 5 things to doMy Profile

    Reply
    • Wander Mum
      July 24, 2017 at 11:31 pm (3 months ago)

      They certainly helped people to rethink. Lots of fun.

      Reply
  14. Catherine's Cultural Wednesdays
    July 19, 2017 at 8:02 pm (3 months ago)

    We love those benches and have lots of similar twin themed pictures! The singing lift is our favourite, the boys even chose it as part of this year’s birthday party! #CityTripping
    Catherine’s Cultural Wednesdays recently posted…ALMA-TADEMA at Leighton HouseMy Profile

    Reply
    • Wander Mum
      July 25, 2017 at 11:59 pm (3 months ago)

      I bet you have some fantastic photos! Haven’t been in the singing lift for ages! Thanks for the reminder!

      Reply
  15. Christine Keane
    July 20, 2017 at 2:57 pm (3 months ago)

    Those benches are too fun! Love how your daughter is having so much fun with those benches! My son would be the same way! 🙂
    Christine Keane recently posted…An Afternoon in Murano, ItalyMy Profile

    Reply
    • Wander Mum
      July 25, 2017 at 12:03 pm (3 months ago)

      I know, she loved them and stayed still long enough for me to take pictures which was a bonus!

      Reply

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