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Peter Newman’s saucer-shaped Skystation seat doubles up as an interactive outdoor sculpture
Skystation by Peter Newman for Canary Wharf Group in London
Image: Peter Newman

Peter Newman’s saucer-shaped Skystation seat doubles up as an interactive outdoor sculpture

Encouraging contemplation of the sky, Skystation by Peter Newman cites the LC4 chaise-lounge by Le Corbusier, Pierre Jeanneret and Charlotte Perriand as inspiration.

by Jincy Iype
Published on : Jul 28, 2022

British artist Peter Newman mentions Le Corbusier as his forever inspiration, evident in his latest work, Skystation, a saucer-shaped seating that doubles up as an interactive public sculpture. The smooth contours of the UFO-shaped public bench are designed to fit the reclining human form and “encourage contemplation of the sky”, as well as the architecture that frames and surrounds it. The simple, circular seat draws from one of the best known pieces of modern furniture designs, the LC4 chaise-lounge designed by Le Corbusier, Pierre Jeanneret and Charlotte Perriand - the “relaxing machine” - designed to echo the natural curves of the human body in repose, in tandem with the modernist ethos of form follows function.

The Skystation can accommodate up to 12 people comfortably Image: Peter Newman

The artist imagined what would happen if one spun the form of the LC4 chair through 360 degrees, resulting in a saucer-shaped form that looks like it could power up at any moment. As the Skystation builds upon the unique seating capacity of the LC4, it can comfortably accommodate 12 people at once, and is constructed using six identical segments that are clubbed together to make a spacious outdoor furniture.

Skystation by Peter Newman encourages “contemplation of the sky” Image: David Hares

Commissioned by the British property company, Canary Wharf Group, Skystation is designed as an object eliciting interactions between multiple people using it at the same time. “Skystation creates an opportunity for pause, reflection and interaction within a public realm. It is called Skystation as I see each one as a stopping point within a larger series of Skystations, in different locations around the world. Each one offers a chance to look up, and out, to pause within a busy day, a welcome chance to relax and reflect, and to admire the sky and the tall architecture that frames and shapes it in the financial district it calls home,” relays Newman, explaining the intent and reasoning behind the seat’s moniker, designed to be placed in public spaces.

The Skystation is made of aluminium bronze Image: Peter Newman

The electrum coloured metallic seat introduces a warm contrast against the cool steel and glass that characterises the district’s buildings where it is installed, at Adams Plaza, between Crossrail Place, the new Elizabeth Line terminal designed by Foster + Partners and the landmark pyramid capped One Canada Square tower by Cesar Pelli in London. Its satin finish catches light in myriad interesting ways throughout the day, lending it dynamism and a subtly varying aesthetic.

Skystation is described by Newman as an interactive public sculpture Image: Peter Newman

Cast in aluminium bronze, the first seat in the series is corrosion-resistant and is used for marine propellers, aircraft landing gear, and naval architecture. According to the artist, the lounge furniture design is a reference to NASA's ‘Neutral Body Posture’, which is the shape the body returns to when free from the influence of gravity. “Looking upwards is inherently optimistic, and something akin to thinking about the future. Cognitive research suggests we do our best thinking lying down. An object to be both observed and used, it has the incidental effect of making conversation between strangers almost inevitable,” adds Newman.

Skystation introduces a warm contrast against the cool steel and glass buildings surrounding it Image: Peter Newman

When asked how the metallic outdoor seating combats amassing heat during the day, Newman says that its location in the busy district enjoys abundant shade because of the many towering buildings, so it does not garner much heat. “But for other locations, I look forward to making Skystation in different materials, like stone, or wood. The idea of making such a fluid, smooth form with such solid materials is exciting,” he contemplates.

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