The proposals for the PCC Amphitheatre Steps and Seats are currently being considered by the client. In the meantime I am working up some drafts for the use bespoke highly detailed letters in a variety of materials ranging from granite and natural stones, to cast iron, enamelled steel, glazed architectural faience and Terrazzo. These letters will be fixed into the rebated text detail within the cast concrete seat riser, which will be 450mm high. Each bespoke letter can be 400mm high. The depth of the rebate will vary from 5mm to 30mm, however, the bespoke letters will all be best at 30mm deep, keeping them as robust as possible.
‘Under the Shadow of the Crane’ was initially an idea for a large scale granite ‘drawing’ to make up the pavement and public realm of the Crane Point site. Water jet cut granite slabs in two colours would form this extensive mosaic pavement, making permanent the ephemeral passing shadow of the crane, creating a physical memorial to the industrial heritage of the Riverside site.
Part 2. ‘Under the Shadow of the Crane’ is actually a reference to the whole of Rochester Riverside, as for much of its post 20th Century history, it was dominated and defined by tall cranes, loading and offloading from the various wharfs. However, a single 200tonne crane was retained & moved to this new position at Blue Boar Hard as a landmark and heritage beacon. Our journey for Phase 3 starts here.
Crane Point is the name for the public realm and viewing point under the shadow of the crane. The landscape has been designed by LUC as an Amphitheatre with precast concrete stepped seating and concrete paving extending around and beneath the crane. A large Apartment block is being built adjacent to the public space, which will look out over the crane and the River Medway.
Children swam from here…Blue Boar Wharf was our playground…
Crane Point – or Blue Boar Hard as it was called in its former life, is the end point of Blue Boar Lane, terminating with a Pier. It starts at its junction with Rochester High Street and the Blue Boar Public House (now demolished), leading under the railway tracks towards the river. At one time, the road split in two, with one track leading to the other side of Blue Boar Creek to James Hall & Son, Iron Foundry. Examples of their work can still be seen embedded into the pavements around Furrell’s Road. To the South of Blue Boar Creek, Blue Boar Wharf provided the river frontage for Barge Building. Up to 100 Medway Spritsail Barges were built here by William Higham. William lived on Victoria Street in Rochester and his wife had 9 children.
William Higham was also notable as a signatory to a fascinating document signed by 251 individuals connected to the Coal Trade Port of Rochester trading from Rochester Riverside on February 10th 1876 petitioning the Mayor and Corporation of the City of Rochester to review the state of the roadway of Blue Boar Lane, which was in such a poor condition it was compelling commerce to land at Chatham and not Blue Boar Hard.
“ We the undersigned Ship Owners, Merchants, Captains and others connected with the coal trade of the Port of Rochester hereby beg to call your attention to the bad state of the roadway of Blue Boar Lane leading to the River Medway and considering the large amount of traffic now going to and from the River…the present state of the road being such as to compel many to land at Chatham who would otherwise do so at Blue Boar Hard…” MALSC
Rather a lot of variations on a theme are drawn up – this is a process of discovery after all. I am often looking for something elusive. I don’t always know what I am chasing after or trying to uncover. Much of this work proves unsuitable to produce, or doesn’t fit the client brief (or budget) but nothing really ever goes to waste. Ideas unused are tucked away for another time.
The rebated letters within the cast concrete stepped units very from 5mm to 30mm deep. This allows for some expression and emphasis to be placed on certain anchor words, important for the interpretation on site. The large coloured letters are proposals for bespoke, highly detailed individual letters made of granite, enamelled steel or architectural glazed faience. These will be inset and bonded into several of the 30mm rebated capital letters, inspired by historiated initials of Illuminated Manuscripts in the Library of Rochester Cathedral.
I have had access to some amazing aerial images from Britain From Above. The following black and white images are so evocative and detailed, they tell a fascinating story of our site’s industrial and social history, nothing much of which survives today, except the large crane.
The above image from 1965 shows the Gasworks, Limehouse Wharf, Acorn Wharf (Shipbuildng) Acorn House, RMC Aggregates and Ready Made Concrete, Cory’s Wharf (Coal), Chatham Goods Yard (Railways), Blue Boar Wharf, Furrell’s Wharf – almost all the way to Chatham Intra. So much to be inspired by…
I am collaborating with LUC and BPTW who are leading on the architecture, masterplanning and landscape design.
I am continuing to develop the work I created for Phases 1 & 2 as the site has endless riches to be inspired by. My problem is knowing where to stop the research. Each stone unturned has golden threads to follow. Contextually, we are now on the site of Blue Boar Wharf, in its heyday a major Barge Building site, with two Yards, Upper and Lower occupied by two businesses – William Higham, ran the Upper Yard, where he built 100 Barges between 1876 and 1901 & George Weedon the proprietor of the Lower Yard.
Above: Gyproc Products (Plasterboard), started production on the Rochester Riverside site in 1933, just 3 years prior to this images from 1936 (the large white shed in the centre of the picture). Cory’s Wharf, with its ‘5 Cranes Dancing’, is in the foreground.
Above: The coming of the railways in the 1840’s effectively separated the town from its salt marsh grazing pastures and community centred around The Common. The Cattle & Livestock Market – seen bottom left in this image from 1936 has rooftop graphics – advertising its products – probably for the benefit of train passengers, as the track was raised on an earthen bank and brick viaduct. ‘Thorley’s Food for Cattle’, & ‘Thorley’s Food for all Stock’.
Above: This Postcard must be a very early image of the site, as there appears to be no industrial development of the Riverside site.
There is a great short film on You Tube called the Medway Dock Crane, which show the Blue Boar Wharf site and the whole of Rochester Riverside, prior to development by Countryside as seen from a drone. Click on the above link to view.
By mid-December 2019, a number of the bespoke public art units (5 of 24) had been finally installed into the footpaths and thresholds of new properties along sections of Common Creek Wharf and Thalia Way. These parts of the site were fully occupied during the weeks leading up to Christmas. I will update as more units are installed –
Above: You may just be able to make out the ‘5 Cranes Dancing’...just below the CORY’S WHARF text . These cranes were eventually replaced by 2 x 200 tonne Cranes, each capable of lifting 10 tons at a time.
This short creative contract to research and develop concept-led proposals for design interpretation and public art for Winchester Station Approaches has now completed.
This work was intended to inform discussion, dialogue and consultation with regard to the final form and feel for the public realm around Winchester Station. This form of placemaking based upon creative site analysis and creative research , which hopefully results in an original interpretation for the site, is essential to create a space fully responsive to its local environment and client & user aspirations.
Above: This draft study detail of the key to materials, finishes and 3D objects, is a concept only proposal and not intended as a final design. Its description of materials, forms and finishes is subject to further discussion and comment. with a future project team.
I had requested a meeting as a matter of courtesy, having visited the Cathedral several times previously during my research work for the Winchester Station Approach Project. It was important I met with Annabelle as I wished to discuss the possibility of collaborating with the Cathedral and particularly with the Stonemasons. Not only that, but I wished to know more about the Cathedral’s role in the community – an enormously broad subject, but nonetheless, one that I considered vital to understand the nature of its calling. It was of real interest to me to hear Annabelle talk about the Cathedral as a living place serving not only its faithful and local congregation, but everyone and anyone. A living and breathing building, actively engaging with and remaining vital to a worldwide audience in the 21st Century.
One outstanding calling is about welcome. In the Cathedra’s Calling and Vision document , emphasis is placed on welcome, access to all, hospitality and pilgrimage. The Cathedral Close is a haven for visitors and locals alike. The Station is also a Gateway to Winchester, so the same ethos ought to be present here in the public realm too, with an emphasis on welcome, and civic hospitality. A place of arrival and departure, a place of safety, a gateway and a welcome.
Marketing Manager Catherine Hodgson, then took me on a walk around the Cathedral and its outbuildings, including a visit to the stonemasons yard. Should the project progress to design stage, then I will certainly be advocating for a cross discipline collaboration with the Cathedral.
‘Sarsen Stones in Winchester’, from the website of The City of Winchester – these sandstone blocks, sought after as ‘markers’, are an inspiration for block seating at Station Approach…see below…
A number of industries, which Winchester supported, including Watermills, Brewing and Iron Foundries depended upon an immediate and plentiful supply of water. Winchester’s waterways brought wealth to the Cathedral.
Amongst these industries, several stand out as examplers –
City Engineering Works and Iron Foundry – Jewell Family of Middle and Lower Brook Street. Amongst other things the made components for the GWR Railways Winchester to Newbury Line. The family were also involved with Durngate Mill and the initials of Philip Charles Jewell appear on much cast iron work in the City.
Wednesday 13th November was the day for the installation of my project in the Radiotherapy Unit. Swift Signs, who printed the work were also installing and their team did a great job.
Above: Detail of Clinic Room W003 . These windows have an over-layer of frosted vinyl applied to the optically clear vinyl to add privacy to this sequence of Clinical Rooms along a corridor. These windows face out on to an external walkway and open space opposite the Hospital Canteen, so the need for privacy was an important issue. The vinyl is still translucent, which means natural light can pass through it.
Above: Above: Detail of Clinic Room W003
Above: Detail of Clinic Room W002
Above: Detail of Clinic Room W005 – Tech Services
Above: Detail of Clinic Room W005 – Tech Services
Above: Detail of artworks in Clothed Waiting Room CW02 (Reception). The artwork in this space is made up of transparent colour printed onto optically clear vinyl, which means it is effectively ‘see through’. This was a required detail here to allow the external landscape and as much light as possible to enter the space.
Above: Detail of artworks in Clothed Waiting Room CW02 (Reception). The vinyl has an adhesive coating, but is ‘floated’ into position on the glass with a light spray of water, allowing for final positioning. A rubber squeegee is then used to remove excess water and any air trapped between the vinyl and the glass.
Above: The External Lobby Entrance seen from outside at dusk, reveals the levels of transparency in the artwork. The impact is soft and subtle, allowing for clear views into the building. At nighttime, this effect becomes almost like stained glass.
Above: Staff Meeting Room CW06. This room was overlooked by a raised footpath accessed by a flight of steps just outside the room, making privacy an issue. We kept the top set of windows free of artwork to maximise daylight and to bring the surrounding trees and landscape into the artwork as well.
At the beginning of August 2019 I was issued with a much simplified plan of the public realm proposals by LDS Architects.
Above: This image – a cropped version of the plan drawing issued by LDA, shows the principal public realm and station access roads. The previous concept proposal for the public art benches and interpretation following the radial plan as previously illustrated was no longer viable, but the strong horizontal banding across the station forecourt still provided a viable grid and scaffold upon which to set out my ideas.
I have always been in favour of using sandstone as the principle paving material, as this has history with the city, plus in terms of colour and appearance, seems much more sympathetic to the fabric of the site and its low level & undemonstrative railway architecture, rather than big city, corporate use of granite for public realm.
We could explore the use of varied sizes of paving slab, within a manageable modular framework. The stone paving in the Cathedral for example, exhibits a wide range of slab size, from a small unit square Purbeck Stone tile – which appears to have been the principle paving material – to the larger and unique Ledger (memorial) Stones in Tournai Marble & other stones.
Above: Both images explore the possibilities of embedding interpretive Public Art elements within the revised LDS Public Realm proposal – seating, paving and retaining structures bringing an original and creative interpretation to the site. Working within the proposed LDS scheme, seating could be positioned at intervals along the parallel banding, using these lines as the principal interpretive parameters.
The key in the plan above outlines the use of:
Sandstone for main paving of the forecourt –
Cast Iron elements with low relief text and / or motifs set within the parallel banding in the paving & an extra wide kerb detail . There were several Iron Foundries in Winchester, which served the Railways –
Porphyry Paving for the primary parallel banding –
Bespoke Benches or ‘Perches’ –
Possible sandblasted, inlaid or etched surface patterns to the sandstone paving – employing super-graphic motifs inspired by the medieval ceramic tiling within the Cathedral –
Granite, Cast Iron, Cast Concrete or Steel defensive barrier structures which can double as seating or ‘perches’, following the radius curve of the highway. These are modelled on cross sections through stone piers in the Cathedral. –
I’m travelling up north to Bolton this week to see the final units completed and hopefully sign off the work so it can be delivered to Rochester Riverside for installation. Can’t wait to see them all.
Above: “BLUE BOAR CREEK”…& other tales from Rochester Riverside. Detail of a water-jet cut & laser-etched paving panel in black Carlow Limestone with inset text of Amarelo Real (yellow granite) & Porphyry.
These new images are just in this afternoon thanks to Mathew Haslam of Hardscape – as their skilled stone specialists focus on the applied detail. Water jet cutting, inlaying, sandblasting and laser etching their way through 15 bespoke units destined to be embedded into the landscape of the new housing development at Rochester Riverside for client Countryside.This highly bespoke work needs to be handled with care and demands high levels of craft skills.
Hardscape have been excellent at providing this form creative collaboration. Public Art Strategy & Artists Commissions by FrancisKnight .
Below: This unit is 9 of 15 – ‘SHELDUCK’, a Kobra Green Granite base slab with water jet cut inset motif & text in black Carlow Limestone, which has been laser etched with surface detail. Further sandblasting of text into the green granite, will complete the work.
Above: The almost completed ‘WILLIAM CORY & SON LTD’.
Above: This is the base slab of black Carlow Limestone, which has been laser etched first & then water jet cut – but the large letter ‘W’, the ‘&’ and the diamond motif have yet to be chiselled out. See Below –
Above: The water jet cutting removes a series of lines from the granite, which are determined by the CAD programme, which creates the cutting paths. These pathways are interesting in themselves as patterns, but in this instance they have to be chiselled out carefully by hand, to create the void space for the granite inlay to be fixed.
Above: This images shows the void spaces chiselled out from the Carlow Limestone. The letter ‘W’ in Maple Red granite has already been inset and is awaiting bonding in place – the diamond motif is just about to be inset. These images are wonderful for showing process, craft and the mix of skills from CAD technology to work by hand & eye.
In June 2019 I was issued with early draft plans for the public realm proposals at the Station by LDS Architects on behalf of Winchester City Council. I proposed to add a layer of creative interpretation to these plans, based on my contextual research and employ the setting out details within the LDS plan as a secure foundation into which I could set my public art concept drafts. My proposal was always going to be about utilising the need for paving, seating, retaining walls and other practical details of public realm highways engineering to keep visual clutter at a minimum. This would also be more economic in terms of budget use and future management and maintenance.
Above: The Station building is on the left of this plan drawing (as seen from above). The plan for the public realm is primarily a sequence of parallel horizontal bands (green) delineated in the paving, which flow downhill from the Station towards City Road and another series which flow uphill along Station Road. However, this baseline geometry is combined with a radial pattern (also in green) which expresses the radius curve in the highway as it transitions from Station Road to Station Hill. This radial pattern provides the anchor for a series of seats (red) and secondary barrier structures (blue). These are concept ideas only – and not designs.
Above: This concept study shows a series of interrelated structures – which could be seating, walls, barrier structures or paving – set out in a radial pattern. These forms are presented as interpretive devices which exhibit combinations of materials and motifs, which seen together in this way embody ideas and responses developed from the contextual research I have undertaken.
Above: The Winchester Bible is regarded as the largest & finest 12th century Illuminated Manuscript. The script is by the hand of a single monk scribe from Winchester. However, the magnificent illuminations were often drawn and painted by itinerant artists – lay professionals who travelled between monasteries and centres of learning. These Illuminated Initials have been inspirational, as has the Morley Library, of which the Winchester Bible is a part. Bishop George Morley bequeathed his collection of rare books to the Cathedral in the 17th Century. His collection is also monogrammed.
Above: Polished flint terrazzo circle with inset letter ‘W’ in Swedish Marble with sandblasted detail, resin bonded in white.
Above: Plan study (meaning ‘seen from above’)of a monolithic sandstone bench with a flat seating surface with the inset letter W and Circle motifs in flint aggregate terrazzo. Below: Sandstone & Flint are primary building materials in Winchester.
“Of particular interest is the ledger stone (memorial) of Francisca Clobery, the daughter of Sir John Clobery. She died in 1683 and her grave is in the south aisle of the Retrochoir, in front of her father’s monument. It is of a distinctive Ordovician limestone (around 465 million years ago) from the Island of Öland, Sweden, containing the straight-shelled Nautiloid.” from ‘Winchester Stone’ by Dr John Parker 2016. ‘John Parker studied geology at Birmingham and Cambridge universities. He is a Fellow of the Geological Society of London. For over 30 years he worked as an exploration geologist for Shell around the world. He has lived in Winchester since 1987. On retirement he trained to be a Cathedral guide’. John has personally shown me around the Cathedral and pointed out many geologic wonders and quirks.
Above: Studies for objects (seating?) in Timber, Sandstone and Swedish Marble employing techniques of inlay, lamination, polishing and sandblasting.
Above: Study for two concept benches in monolithic black Tournai Marble with inlaid detail and laminated stone additions of Swedish Marble.
I hope to investigate manufacturing processes which allow stone to be cut, laminated, decorated and finished in a manner which embodies the richness of the Cathedral interiors and it’s ongoing repair and regeneration – BUT – in a functional manner, either as seating etc or as a method of improving wayfinding for visitors.