In 2015, we joined forces with Architecture 00. Together, we enjoy collaborating in a shared environment where strategic, urban and social designers, architects, programmers and economists practice design beyond its traditional borders. 00 work with individuals, governments, corporations and communities to solve problems and anticipate change, and to design successful platforms and places. As a studio it aims to reach beyond the design of objects themselves to the social, economic and environmental systems behind them.

The Longest Bench

The longest bench in Britain was opened to the public in Littlehampton, West Sussex on 30th July 2010. The bench seats over 300 people along Littlehampton’s promenade, overlooking the town’s award-winning Blue Flag beach.

This project began as an idea to create a distinctive sense of place along the promenade – and what better than the longest bench in the UK, or perhaps eventually the world. The structure sinuously travels along the promenade, meandering around lampposts, bending behind bins, and ducking down into the ground to allow access between the beach and the green.

Like a seaside boardwalk the Longest Bench rests gently on its habitat and adapts to its surroundings while like a charm bracelet it connects and defines the promenade as a whole, underlining it as a collection of individual playful places that can be added to throughout its lifetime. 

The Longest Bench is made from thousands of hardwood bars reclaimed from sources including old seaside groynes (including Littlehampton’s) and rescued from landfill. This simple component is arrayed to accommodate the complex shapes called for by the form of the wall and the activities which take place along it. The variety of reclaimed timbers are interspersed with splashes of bright colour wherever the bench wriggles, bends or dips.

In developing the design we worked with Connaught Junior School. The local children showed us how they use the promenade and what they think of it, giving us insight into the site we wouldn’t otherwise have.

Two important incidents along the length of the site are the shelters, which were considered dirty and unsafe by the children: dividing rather than connecting spaces. We designed new Shelter Charms that are bronze-finished twisted monocoque forms, which have no front or back, with views of the sea framed by the looping bench. 

The Longest Bench was granted CABE’s ‘Sea Change’ funding, a capital grants programme for cultural and creative regeneration in seaside resorts and received a private donation from Gordon Roddick as a tribute to his late wife Anita (founder of the Body Shop, which is based in the town). The bench is also engraved with hundreds of personal messages from supporters, which has helped it stretch a little bit further!

If you are interested in supporting the bench and helping Littlehampton make it into the record books in return for your name or message engraved onto the bench, contact longest.bench@arun.gov.uk

We imagined the Longest Bench as a charm bracelet gifted to the town: a delicate piece of jewellery that can accommodate new and varied additions. The form of the bracelet’s chain is informed by the simple seaside boardwalk together with a mathematic theorem that envisages movement.

A charm bracelet consists of a simple chain, which is personalised with trinkets given as presents by friends or family. Each charm has its own unique story of travels, events and friendships.

Apollonius’ Theorem is a geometric method to construct a parabola from straight lines. Through a simple series of straight lines, sinuous flowing curves can be constructed.


By using similar thinking, we developed the geometry of the Longest Bench by imagining it as one bar that has made a journey along the promenade. Throughout its journey, the bar has rushed along the straight parts, swerved around lampposts and bins, jumped over the wall here and there, and bounced about wildly inside a looping shelter.

Our initial impressions and research revealed the distinctive character of Littlehampton seafront. Unusually, the promenade is level with the beach. We observed a strong the connection with the sea from the town, without the barriers of sharp level changes and bulky handrails, often seen along seafronts.

Littlehampton promenade, unlike many, is not backed by a busy, house-lined seafront road but stretches between the beach and a green, therefore is both by the water and through a park.

The theorem may be described as follows:


*Assume a parabola with two points A and B and their tangents AS and BS are given.


*Pick a number, n and divide AS and BS into n equal intervals.


*Label division points on AS with numbers 1, 2, 3, … counting from S, and mark those on BS counting from B.


*Connect the points with the same labels. From Apollonius’ theorem, the lines will envelope the parabola.