Project Bench

UCL's Happy to Chat benches and the national campaign

The 'Happy to Chat' bench concept

Inscribed within the design ‘Happy to Chat bench: sit here if you don’t mind someone stopping to say hello’, these distinctive benches address the theme of isolation and create opportunities to reconnect with people again in a post-pandemic environment.

The concept was conceived by Allison Owen-Jones in Cardiff and has spread across the UK and beyond; benches can be found as far afield as Ukraine, Canada and Australia!

About UCL's benches

At UCL’s Professional Services conference in June 2022, delegates were invited to pitch ideas to improve our hybrid working experience and bring the UCL community together. Astrea submitted a winning pitch to create a series of four ‘Happy to Chat’ benches across the UCL Estate.

Our benches are dedicated to five inspirational women with a personal connection to UCL, who have shaped our world and left a lasting legacy: Elizabeth Garrett AndersonBernice LakeKathleen Lonsdale; Constance Markievicz and Sarah Parker Remond.

People are encouraged to scan the QR code which will take them to the Happy to Chat landing page, where there is information on our inpsiring women and other suggested topics that they can use to spark off a conversation.

An information pack is below, please feel free to download and circulate to your friends and colleagues:

UCL bench locations

There are four benches located across UCL's campuses:

UCL Main Quad (map)

Happy to Chat bench in the UCL Main Quad

IOE, UCL's Faculty of Education and Society concourse - Level 4 (map)

Happy to Chat bench at the IOE


Garden at Bidborough House (map)

Happy to Chat bench at Bidborough House

3rd floor terrace at UCL East - One Pool Street (map)

Happy to Chat bench at UCL East


The launch

The launch of our inaugaral bench in the Main Quad took place on Monday 11th September, with Aimie Chapple, Vice-Provost (Operations).