In response to the Structures on the Edge competition, we collaborated with artist Tristan Hessing, of One Thoresby Street, to explore the ambivalent relationship between art and nature conservation. We designed a shifting public art installation on the wild beaches of the Lincolnshire coast, on the theme of extreme picnicking.
Stranded was our shortlisted entry for the 2010 Structures on the Edge art programme, and a distant cousin of our Bathing Beauties competition entry.
The artists’ brief called for small permanent structures in the sand dunes of the Lincolnshire coast that would respond to the wild beauty and harsh environment. Our response was to design an installation for extreme picnicking as a robust response to the rugged nature of the site.
We decided to make our intervention at a dune crossing point, reinforcing and protecting the dune whilst giving views and shelter for visitors as they move between land and beach. Stranded would be a faceted concrete structure whose shape was derived from the dune surface, but with points raised to provide views and shelter, and others buried beneath the surface to provide foundations. We would see it as a geometric abstraction of the dune landscape, a frozen snapshot of the shifting sands. It might be taken for an archaeological artefact that has been exposed, or is in the process of being covered, by the sands.
Our collaboration with the artist
We found that Tristan shared our approach to understanding the project and our chosen site at Wolla Bank. We took our cameras and tape recorders and had a picnic in the dunes. We talked and sketched and thought, but we also interviewed everyone we could — hikers, families, fishermen, dog walkers, bird watchers.
It became obvious that it was the remoteness and rawness that they appreciated. All of them had visited Wolla Bank many times, and they all praised its quietness and undeveloped nature. Rather than change the place by inserting an icon that would signal development, we decided we should intervene in a strong but subtle way in the landscape.
The process of making Stranded would be intimately connected to these intentions. Creating a mould from the sand of the dune, we would dig out areas of the structure which would be ultimately submerged beneath the ground, and build up areas that would be raised. Finally, we would spray on fibre reinforced concrete to form the structure. The process would be like building a giant sand castle — a hands-on process through which we would engage the local community and visitors.
The exposed concrete areas would collect sand and be blown clean so that the structure would change over time, a process that we would document and that would help to explain the life, mobility and sensitivity of dunes to the visitor.
" 2hD have been committed to delivering the highest standard possible at every opportunity in our collaboration, which is absolutely how it should be and the reason why it has worked so well for all parties.
From our initial shared exploration of the site, they were very engaged with my responses and ideas, responding quickly with visualisations and practical suggestions for the making process. The principle of our collaboration was to understand where our common ground was and how best to pool resources and create design without compromise."
— Tristan Hessing, collaborating artist