The Benchway

Bentway Public Space Fellow Ella Hough’s Benchway public furniture project starts a conversation about the waste produced by the private construction industry, its impact on our city, and the potential for a circular economy approach instead.

Made of douglas fir framing lumber from an early 20th century house in Toronto’s Little Italy, her bench demonstrates the process of deconstruction and material reuse, which, if widely adopted, could significantly lower the environmental impact of the construction industry.

Public space and construction waste are intertwined in Toronto’s history. The Bentway lies on human-made land, constructed with rubble from 20th century construction debris through a lakefilling project that added 2000 acres to Toronto’s shoreline. Similar construction debris infill is the foundation for public spaces like Leslie Spit, Ontario Place, and Humber Bay Park. These massive infill projects meant that widespread demolition and bulldozing practices were more common than hand-wrecking for material salvage. 

Benchway demonstrates an approach to building materials which embraces the historical, environmental, and aesthetic value of salvage, suggesting that Toronto’s public space and construction practices could model a circular approach to materials. You are invited to take a seat and contemplate the possibilities of the circular economy!

What to expect:

  • All gender and accessible washrooms available during 1 – 8:30pm on weekdays, and 10am – 8:30pm on weekends. The washrooms will be closed on Mondays, with the exception of holidays.
  • A 6 ft bench built from salvaged wood


project team

Photography Assistant: Claire Harvie

Design: Ella Hough

Fabrication: Esker Builds

Salvaged Material Supplier: Ouroboros Deconstruction

Engineering: Blackwell Engineering

supporter recognition/special thanks

Meredith Moore

Alison Creba

Robert Raynor

Haley Anderson

Esker Gaffney-Knox