What is the big bench community project?
From Chris Bangle’s Big Benches, now a symbol of the Alta Langa, comes the BIG BENCH COMMUNITY PROJECT (BBCP) initiative, to support local enterprise, tourism and craftsmanship in the towns that host these out-of-scale installations. BBCP is a no profit initiative promoted by the american designer and his wife Catherine, Clavesana citizens since 2009, to unite the creativity of the Chris Bangle Associates S.r.l. design team with the craftsmen of this area of Piemonte. BBCP activities – strictly no profit – include both technical support for those who wish to construct offi-cial Big Benches, and collaboration with prominent local craftsmen to create products inspired by them, that may constitute a small contribution to the local economy and tourism, in the spirit of positivity that the Big Benches bring to this area.
It is always exciting watching a fresh idea spread its wings and fly to discover new people, attitudes and perspectives on things we already think we know.
This is what happened with the Big Bench. Everything started as a project amongst friends and neighbours, and now it is winning the hearts and passion of many people, that otherwise would probably not have imagined looking at the Italian mountains and vineyards sitting on an out-of-scale piece of outdoor furniture.
That’s the beauty in this kind of design. Objects become iconic not only because they are driven by a marketing machine, but because the intrinsic idea is so seductive and so easily achievable that it creates in itself the natural conditions for its duplication and distribution.
The Giant Benches are often first seen in photographs, but once you sit on one of them you get the feeling of enjoying the view “as if you were a child again”. You experience an intense feeling to be shared with others. The benches are made to relax on and instead of an armchair it is large enough to share with one or more friends. Sitting on a bench is a pleasant social gesture, and making good use of all the positive energy emanating from the Big Benches is the root of the BIG BENCH COMMUNITY PROJECT.
It would be wonderful if the Big Bench concept were to cross the peaceful confines of Piemonte. As our BIG RED BENCH #1 inspired enthusiasts to build more, maybe someday visitors coming from afar will carry away such a strong memory of the benches it will inspire them to replicate the concept. Maybe one day we will see a Peace Bench in a truly troubled part of the world, where the opportunity to sit, see things from a fresh per-spective and once again feel like a child, is desperately needed.
The Giant Benches
The first Big Bench with this particular design was constructed in 2010 by Chris Bangle on the Borgata grounds in Clavesana, his residence and studio, as an installation looking out onto the panorama and accessible to visitors. The idea of giant benches is not new, but the context is. The change in perspective due to the size of the bench makes one feel like a child, able to be amazed by the beauty of the landscape seen through new eyes. The bench in less then a year became a local attraction for visitors to the area. Chris Bangle: «It is a great lesson in the use of contextual innovation. We are so obsessed by discovering new things that we often deny ourselves the interesting feeling of experiencing well known things but in a different context».
Over the last years more official benches have been built in the surrounding area, without public funding, solely thanks to private sponsors. Chris Bangle freely provided the bench builders with designs and instructions, asking as the only condition that they be placed in a scenic position, on land accessible to the public, and that they respect the social spirit that gave birth to the original bench: not a private installation, but rather part of a collective experience that anyone coming to this region can share end experience.
Riva di Solto – Fonteno Bench
Our bench is the second of the 10 that will be placed in our territories. The first Big Bench of our area has been positioned in the village of Rogno (loc. Spiazzi) and some others will be placed soon.
Always in Rogno, along the cycle path, baby benches will be placed to remind all the villages where you can view the original Big ones.
Our bench is Blue and Green, blue as the lake and green as the mountains; it establishes the collaboration between Riva di Solto and Fonteno. Thanks to the associations that have contributed to the realization of the same, Sagra del pesce of Riva di Solto, Protezione civile of Fonteno and “Amici di San Carlo” of Xino, today we can enjoy this panoramic point free of charge.
How to reach it
Departure from Fonteno’s square (30 min: easy for everyone)
The bench, places in a piece of land in the Municipality of Riva di Solto, can be reached with a not particular difficulty walk of 30 minutes starting from Piazza Ongaro Parroci in Fonteno. Starting from the square, go up across Via Campello towards the town hall, in front of it you turn right into Via Papa Giovanni XXIII up to the entrance of the old route to Solto Collina. In any case, the route is also marked by signs leading to the bench
Departure from Riva di Solto (1:30 / 2h trekking)
For those who are a bit more sporty, we suggest a slightly more difficult trek that starts from the village of Riva di Solto. It starts from Riva di Solto, at the intersection of via Ronchi and via Papa Giovanni XXIII, near car park number 3. The CAI path 567 or CM1, which the residents call “Zangol”, runs along the San Rocco Valley. Going up quickly on a paved road and a mule track you arrive at the hamlet of Zangolo (m 332); at the junction (with effigie) you take the left, always well marked as path 567. When you spit on a cemented road you must go down for 20 meters and then you will see the new entrance of the path that continues to climb up to reach the little village of Xino (m 445). At the square you must always go straight, passing next to some old water tanks, then climbing up on a paved and steep road, you will reach the main road leading to the square of Fonteno (m 615) 500 meters away. From here continue with the walk indicated above.
It is possible to download the GPS track that can also be viewed in google earth (klm).
This traced paths are made by Gianluca, he made them running so the times employed could be minor than normal.