A walk from Herne Bay to Birchington at Low Tide with two Arabian Oryx and an African Elephant – February 2019
These images are part of the ongoing Animal Thanet project and installation / performance, which considers & reflects wider concerns I have for the natural world, particularly focussed on the lives of its wild animals, conservation, loss of habitat, diminishing numbers, poaching, trophy hunting, extinction and callous exploitation, which holds a mirror to our humanity. We may soon only have plastic versions of our wild neighbours to play with. The last decade has witnessed the slow & horrible realisation that our negative impact on the planet and particularly our plastic pollution of almost every environment, is a real-time catastrophe for the world around us.
Above: Arabian Oryx – Oryx leucoryx at Herne Bay
Above: African Elephant – L. africana at Herne Bay
The project was nominated by the Margate Civic Society. In 2014, the project had been awarded a Civic Award by the local group and it was on the back of this that the nomination for the Civic Voice Award was made. I attended the event with Geoff Orton of the Margate Civic Society.
This project was delivered by a large and diverse integrated design team. I think part of it’s success as a project is certainly down to the collaborative nature of the scheme and that this process was something which contributed from the outset of the works, influencing and challenging the design process at each stage.
Civic Voice shortlists 12 schemes for new design awards !
The Margate Flood & Coastal Protection Project aka ‘Margate Steps’, has been shortlisted for this new design award.
“Civic Voice – the national charity for the civic movement – has today announced its national shortlist for the best designed new development nominated by communities in the country”.
Griff Rhys Jones, Civic Voice President said:
“What I really like about the Civic Voice Design Awards is that they are national awards which have been nominated by local community organisations like civic societies, residents groups, town and parish councils and other community based voluntary organisations, rather than the industry professionals. They show that people are willing to welcome the new developments we need when they have been properly consulted and involved and where the quality of design has been of the highest standard. I look forward to meeting the award winners”
The images clearly show the scale and impact that the Coastal Protection Project has had on the local area. The additional public realm and and amenity space that the works have provided is shaping the way that the seafront engages with the Old Town and Harbour. Even at high tide, the Old Town is accessible from the beach, which had previously not been possible. The wonderful coastal setting which has become the backdrop for the regeneration of the Harbour Arm, Custom House, Turner Contemporary, Old Town, Margate Steps and now finally Dreamland coming on stream has really made Margate magnificent once again.
I recently saw some new aerial images of Margate Steps at low tide taken by the project contractors Breheny –
Breheny have very kindly allowed me to publish them on my blog. Notwithstanding its success as an example of coastal engineering within an urban setting, these images of the project really show to good effect the scale and impact of the project. As a public realm & additional amenity space which the step revetment provided for the town, the project was also successful as demonstrated by the awards it has won.
I was commissioned as the project Artist by MACH – Margate Art & Cultural Heritage, Thanet District Council & the Environment Agency. My role was to supply an interpretive & contextual backdrop developed with which to influence the design process & inform the structure, detailing & interpretation of this major sea defence works. The total budget for the project was £6m.
On Thursday 8th May 2014, at an event at the Walpole Bay Hotel in Cliftonville, the Margate Flood and Coast Protection Scheme, aka ‘Margate Steps’ was awarded a Town Pride Award 2014 by the Margate Civic Society.
This follows the 2013 award given to the project at the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) South East England Engineering Excellence Awards 2013. This award was particularly welcomed as it recognised the benefit of the project in enhancing the experience of its host community. The project team behind the scheme received the award from ICE Senior Vice President, Geoff French, at a ceremony which was held at Leeds Castle on Friday 7 June. The awards recognise the best civil engineering projects across South East England with the judges looking for projects that deliver a real benefit to society through the knowledge, skills and professional expertise of civil engineers.
The revetment steps are now almost a year old and appear to have been really taken to heart by both the community & visitors alike. As well as fulfilling a vital role as protection from the risk of flooding, the defences were designed as a stepped revetment which accommodates integrated seating and lighting to provide an incredible amenity and public realm from which to enjoy Margate’s famous coastal views and sunsets.
On 9th May 2014, the Margate Flood & Coast Protection Scheme, aka the Margate Steps will have been officially opened for a year. It is rewarding to see that:
1. The sea defence works are working !…the storms over winter clearly tested the engineering.
2. That the wonderful amenity space we envisaged (over and above its primary function as a sea defence works) would have become such an addition to the Margate sea front environment. I will be posting images and text from the project’s history over the coming weeks.
It was an amazing project to be involved with. I promised myself I would swim off the steps at high tide to celebrate the opening. I missed my opportunity, so am trying again ! Look out for the guy in a wet suit trying hard not to look cold !
A video of Margate Steps can be seen here on its official opening day on 9th May 2013.
I think we can safely say that Margate Steps has benefitted the community.
The blue text outlined below formed a much larger visual narrative prepared to support & inform the designs for the sea defence works. It is made up of historic, anecdotal and real time events which occurred along the length of the new sea defences.