The expert: Ronny Ng poses on a new bench, part of the City of Sydney’s $3 million suite of city furniture. Photo: Joosep MartinsonSelf-described “survival artist” Ronny Ng is Sydney’s pre-eminent expert on the city’s best public seats and benches. After sleeping rough on Sydney’s streets for 17 years, he rates the city’s new modern furniture as close to perfect.
“It is a great idea, I can sleep on it,” he said.
He said the new bench’s sleek design meant he could lie down without an uncomfortable bar in the middle. The pared-down design of the arm rest meant he could stretch out: “I can put my feet through the hole.”
The new suite of city furniture is designed to encourage people to “explore and linger”. Costing about $3 million in total, it is part of a plan to encourage residents, workers and visitors to explore the city on foot, said Sydney’s Lord Mayor Clover Moore. “This is about making our city more accessible, and we hope the increased foot traffic will be a boon for local businesses,” she said.
The new suite includes bubblers, benches like the one where Mr Ng stopped to sit and roll a cigarette on Tuesday morning, a pedestrian light pole, three bollards, tree guards and grates, and bins.
Designed by Tzannes Associates, the pieces will be rolled out across Sydney as needed in new developments and as older furniture needs replacing. The company’s design director Alec Tzannes said the suite had been designed to reflect Sydney’s outdoor lifestyle.
“We wanted the pieces to have a real sense of casualness – we wanted to capture how people live in Sydney, how you can enjoy the city’s terrific climates and open public spaces,” he said.
When he lost his job as an advertising consultant, 60-year-old Mr Ng’s life unravelled. He lost his home soon after, and has since sat and slept on most of Sydney’s benches and chairs.
Another favourite spot of his is a bench in Hyde Park: “I like the trees. They gave me a lot of inner peace.” When anybody asked him about his sleeping arrangements, he said he always responded: “Just enough for one person”. One common problem is rolling off the bench, and landing on the ground.
Some of the new furniture was installed behind Town Hall on Kent Street a few months ago. It will be rolled out across Sydney as streets are upgraded or new infrastructure projects take place.
The replacement of existing furniture would be done on a case-by-case basis and in consultation with the city’s heritage experts.
“Much-loved or heritage pieces will be preserved,” said a spokesperson for the city. This included historic wooden benches on Glebe Point Road and the old cast iron bubblers, such as the ornate bubbler in Beare Park, Elizabeth Bay.
The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Wuxi Plastic Surgery Hospital.