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 issued by LDA, shows the principal public realm and station access roads. The concept proposal for the public art benches 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 & suburban 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 exhibits a wide range of slab size, from a square Purbeck Stone tile – which appears to have been the principle paving material – to the larger and unique Ledger (memorial) Stones in Tournai Marble.
Above: Both images explore the possibilities of embedding 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 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 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.
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 detail 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 is also more economic in terms of budget use.
Above: The Station building is on the left of this drawing. 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 base 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).
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 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 monogrammed.
Above: Polished flint terrazzo circle with inset letter ‘W’ in Swedish Marble with sandblasted detail, resin bonded in white.
Above: Plan study of a monolithic sandstone bench with 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 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 benches in monolithic black Tournai Marble with inlay detail and laminated stone extensions of Swedish Marble.
I hope to investigate manufacturing process which allow stone to be cut, laminated, decorated and finished in a manner which embodies the richness of the Cathedral interiors – BUT – in a functional manner, either as seating etc or as a method of wayfinding.
Station Hill leads up to Winchester Station from the busy junction of Stockbridge Road, City Road, Andover Road and Sussex Street. Swan Lane also joins here. The site has been historically known as Carfax, meaning the meeting of roads. The Carfax Hotel, formerly on the site now occupied by the Hampshire Records Office took its name from this historic site. The Masterplan proposals for this whole site, developed by Winchester City Council’s Consultants Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands Architects, is referred to as the Carfax Site. and incorporates the Station and Station Approaches.
Station Hill today doesn’t give much away about it’s local community or life as a lively neighbourhood, but this wasn’t always the case.
I will try to add to this post throughout the project as new research throws up characters and stories.
The Train Station is seen above in the bottom left quadrant. Roger Brown’s model was based on the OS Map of 1873. Roger had been a Planning Officer for Winchester City Council.
Some key building are still extant , such as the Station and the South Western Inn, formerly the Railway Refreshment Inn – & up until 2015, Winchester Register Office. The Carfax Hotel is visible on the junction of Station Hill & Sussex Street. The terraced houses of Gladstone Street are there too, but the Reservoirs of the Sussex Brewery, seen on the OS Map of 1870 now appear to be allotment gardens. Needs a bit more investigating to discover what the reservoirs were for. I can’t find any reference to the Sussex Brewery.
Above: A bit blurry…but nonetheless the Station and Public House are clearly shown. A narrow footpath leads to Sussex House just beyond the Station in this image. A lovely circular garden feature can also be seen just left of the Station forecourt behind a fence. I wonder if this was a public or private space?
Above; At centre is the Carfax Hotel building on Station Hill and Sussex Street. This important crossroads, or Carfax, shows a complex junction of City Road, Swan Lane, Station Hill, Andover Road and Sussex Street. Really complicated for pedestrians to navigate and cross even today.
By 1970, the Carfax Hotel, first named in 1918, had fallen into disrepair during the 1960’s. It had been taken over by the King Alfred Teacher Training College as student accommodation. However, it was demolished in 1972 as part of a road improvement scheme.
A short post on patterns of paving used externally in the City streets. These images are a simple & straightforward record of paving and materials used in highway engineering and the public realm in Winchester. What I am interested in is the variation and the happenstance in pattern, materials and textures. The ordinary and mundane, boring ?…yet, some richness and patterns emerge, often as a result of repair & regeneration. Interesting to note changes at thresholds and edges. Old and new side by side. They are perhaps not the most exciting of images – but for those of you who look down at what you are walking on – you may also see something that inspires you, as I have been.
The image above is a detail of the beautifully carved ebony black polished stone 12th Century font, with its depiction of the miracles of St Nicholas, It is without doubt one of the Cathedral’s greatest treasures. It was brought from Tournai, in modern day Belgium. It has been in use ever since.
It isn’t too hard to find odd and quirky combinations of mundane & exotic materials and examples of spectacular & naive decorative arts and crafts side by side in Winchester, especially in the Cathedral. Almost one thousand years of continual occupation of the site bears witness to an unbroken architectural legacy, one that is brimful of odd juxtapositions, exotic materials, renewed or replaced fabric, scratched graffiti, vandalism and destruction. Like walking through a time-warp. Robust Norman Romanesque Architecture to Perpendicular Gothic in one step. Swedish Marble to Purbeck Stone. Extant 13th Century inlaid ceramic floor tiles to 1960’s replicas. Striking thresholds crossed mixing time and material, yet the experience is not jarring or disjointed. Time itself has softened these transitions and blurred the edges.
I am continually cherry picking from the world around me, plucking at things, tucking things away – like a squirrel for winter or in the manner of a herbivore, continually grazing. I am gathering visual information – an extraordinary cabinet of curiosity. Certain things catch my attention, whilst others pass me by, unseen. This eclectic meander is not a considered or deliberate creative manoeuvre. It is innate. It is my pattern of speech, it is my handwriting. It simply is.
SANDSTONE – FLINT – LIMESTONE – EBONY BLACK TOURNAI MARBLE – HAND MADE BRICK – OAK TIMBERS – INLAID CERAMIC TILES – MONOLITHIC GRANITE – CAST IRON – GUN METAL – CARVED OAK – STAINED GLASS – WINDOW TRACERY – LEAD
Oh my word…we’re on a roll in production up at Hardscape in Bolton.
These images are hot off the press, as skilled stone specialists at Hardscape 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 Properties. This work needs to be handled with care and demands high levels of craft skills. Hardscape have been excellent at providing creative collaboration .
Above: This is the ‘&’ from ‘WALRUS & NELLIE’. Water jet cut into a slab of Red Shiraz Granite 900mm x 300mm x75mm. It is awaiting the inlaying of the circle of yellow Amarelo Real Granite. It looks amazing. WALRUS & NELLIE were the names of two portable aggregate conveyors loading stone and cobbles on and off barges at Cory’s Wharf, Blue Boar Hard.
Above: This is the laser etched ‘DUNLIN A SALTMARSH BIRD’, , waiting to be water jet cut from its slab of beautiful Carlow Limestone & inset into a slab of red granite. See image below, where the DUNLIN has been partially cut out from the block in concentric linear patterns. This is a complex unit, with other letters inlaid. Precision is key. These beautifully crafted objects embedded in the landscape, will be a gentle reminder of the natural, social and industrial history of the site.
The laser etched image of the Shelduck will now be water jet cut out of the Carlow slab and the motif inlaid into a slab of Kobra Green Granite, which has the shape of the bird already cut into the surface.
Interesting to note also that the Carlow Limestone has beautiful fossil shells embedded. Also note that these are not my feet, they probably belong to Pedro, who is overseeing and also working on my project. Without skilled people like this, I would be lost !
Have you ever thought what is up there, caught between the vaulted ceiling and the external roof? It was this hidden void in the attic, described as a forest , which so disastrously burned at Notre Dame in April this year. On Wednesday 19th June this year I ventured up the Tower of Winchester Cathedral to reach the same space. I have really wanted to venture into this cavernous space – between the 14th & 15th Century vaulted nave we see in the image above and the original massive timbered roof – for years. This timbered structure is what pilgrims and locals would have seen & looked up into prior to the nave being constructed. It is the most amazing floating world – a void – a medieval secret.
This is the timber walkway inside the void space, which sits atop the massive oak beams which cross the nave . The walkway disappears into the bell tower and Norman part of the Cathedral. Images do not do this space justice. This is the longest Cathedral nave in Europe. The Lierne Vaulted Ceiling lies just below the cross beam timbers.
‘The cathedral possesses the only diatonic ring of fourteen church bells in the world. The back twelve were all cast by John Taylor & Co in 1937. They were augmented to fourteen when two new bells were added in 1992 by the Whitechapel Bell Foundry. One bell was cast by Anthony Bond, an itinerant Founder in 1621.’ Wikipedia Ref
This image – above – shows Norman stone carving high up in the Bell Tower. Quite amazing to get so close to it.
In August all was ready for the casting of the iron units and off I eagerly trotted on the train up to Hargreaves Foundry in Halifax to be present during a famous ‘Casting Thursday’! – I have been up to Hargreaves only once before and Andrew Knight, Foundry & Patternshop Manager showed me around the factory at that time. Even though this was impressive, (& it is !) it couldn’t match being present to witness my own work being cast. It is such a physical, visceral process, fully hands on and dangerous with it. The skill & craft is astonishing and it is this legacy of making, which Hargreaves has in bucketfuls, that I wanted to design into the public art work for Rochester.
Nine cast iron units have now been made, from 5 original cnc tooled patterns manufactured to my designs by Arthur Jackson & Co Ltd, Halifax. These patterns, cnc tooled from a type of resin block are used to prepare the resin sand mould boxes used in the final casting process. The cast units are then hand finished through grinding and polishing methods.
Individual one ton iron weights are used to secure the moulds during casting, such are the pressures of heat during the process. The moulds are constructed from a resin infused black sand, which has been compacted around the master pattern, which is then removed.
What I can’t convey here is the noise, heat, smell & excitement of this process during the critical stages of casting. The experience is vivid and visceral. I am watching something being made which could last for hundreds of years.
The units above and below have now been treated with Nitric Acid to prevent rusting through oxidation. The cast iron is almost black and the relief jumps out very cleanly.
OK, so I am revisiting the early stages of the project…having NOT had the time to document progress on here. These early drafts and drawings were completed in June this year. Based upon contextual research and concept design development for the generation of the interpretive public art elements at Winchester Station. Several versions of this initial research have been submitted for discussion and comment. There are still some areas I would love to tap into, but for the moment I am awaiting a final briefing to focus the work. The same goes for materials research. Excited by the prospect of working with some amazing manufacturers…but have to hold off for now.
These early drafts considered an ‘all-over’ repeating pattern for natural paving, influenced by the Cathedral’s extant medieval inlaid ceramic floor tiles – and used here as a super-graphic motif. At this time I was not responding to any masterplan landscape proposals from the clients Architects and Urban Planners LDS – as these had not yet been circulated. The ideas were formulated in response to my own research in the city and now form the foundations of my project approach.
The building stones of Winchester are hugely influential when looking at the interpretation of place and the significance of the Station as a gateway to the City. Although granite has been used here, local sandstones and limestones with flint and brick dominate.
The architectural scale of the Station buildings warrant a softer frame with regard to paving. Sandstone fits this bill. Granite is perhaps too corporate and ubiquitous for this site.
The City has a strong tradition of procession and pilgrimage, which reinforces notions of way finding and direction, arrival and departure, as well as the physical experience of walking and the materials you are walking upon.