Last week I spotted this parklet in the City of London and really loved the idea behind it. “Lunch Break” is an installation with 40 golden angels resting on swings near St. Paul’s Cathedral. It has transformed this formerly nondescript kerbside.
KHBT architects and artist Ottmar Hörl set out to make people think and smile with their “guardian angels who deserve some rest”. I certainly enjoyed the opportunity to pause while double-deckers whizzed past, pedestrians hurried to-and-fro and Central line trains rumbled underground.
Taking a moment to stop can seem counter-intuitive when you’re busy but chronic stress leads to burnout. “Lunch break” is an invitation to urbanites to slow down and rest for a while.
It’s estimated that over 80 percent of us [feel low-grade stress] all the time. When we are stressed, our nervous system tightens up and we lose our creativity. Stress stops us learning, and if we aren’t learning, we aren’t growing.
Stress kills creativity and kills us too. Whereas small amounts of stress help us focus, engage, and learn, chronic or elevated stress burns us out, literally as well as metaphorically.
– Nick Jankel: Switch On
When did you last take a lunch break? Like a real one. Not a working lunch talking shop with a client/colleague/prospect. Not scoffing a sarnie at your desk adding to the crumbs in your keyboard. Not rushing to the bank or the gym. Not nipping out for a cigarette in between meetings. Not calling your mum from the queue at Pret before hurrying back to work. Not grabbing a pot of soup from the in-house cafeteria thingy and eating it cold because you got ambushed by your director at the till.
I’m talking a true lunch break. A rest break. One where you leave your place of work (even if you work from home or work on a grotty industrial estate). One where you stretch your legs for a few moments, see the sky, taste your food and relax your brain or do something pleasurable.
If you can’t remember, then set an intention to reclaim your lunch break this week. Notice any difference to your energy levels and your ability to focus in the afternoon. Experiment, rest often, repeat.
City installations including parklets are part of the London Festival of Architecture.