A rainwater collecting bench made with porous concrete

Belgian designer Barbara Standaert created the Waterbench, a piece of urban furniture with integrated planer made with porous concrete to collect rainwater.

Cities are becoming increasingly paved surfaces with less green. This means water flows away quickly into the sewage system, rather than sinking into the ground.

To restore natural processes and give back green to the urbanised landscape, Standaert designed the Waterbench, which functions as a bench, a planter and a rainwater tank.

Through the porous concrete cover, rainwater seeps into a watertight concrete reservoir, which can hold about 280 litres (74 US gallons) of water, where the plants find their water and food. This ensures the plants need hardly any maintenance. An overflow allows the excess water to flow away.

During droughts, the reservoir can be re-filled. Additionally, the concrete reservoir has a cooling effect. The porous concrete guarantees a dry seat, even on rainy days.

“The Waterbench is comfortable to stop for a moment, to catch up during a pause, to chill for a while or to welcome people,” Standaert states. “And this in the middle of some green with a story: the subtle combination of functions awakens curiosity and social interaction. Green and water bring people together and start conversations.”

The Waterbench won the Henry van de Velde Award 2020 in the category Habitat and is up for the Gold Award in its category. You can cast your vote until 19 December here. The project was created in cooperation with Ebema.

Photos: Barbara Standaert