Idyllically located on the mud flats of the Exbury bank of the Bealieu River, The Egg is a project that young architectural practice, Perring Architecture + Design (PAD), are developing in partnership with ArtSway, a contemporary visual arts organization based in the New Forest . The project was initially conceived to bring together architects, artists and engineers to collaborate on exploring new models for rural architecture, through a series of temporary buildings in the New Forest National Park. The buildings will be a resource for interaction and debate on issues of sustainability, recycling, energy conservation and rural development, with artists’ inhabitation and activity as the catalyst. More images and architects’ description after the break.
Working with renowned artist Stephen Turner, PAD identified the unusual site in an exploration up the Beaulieu River one winter February morning. The sinuous form of the river embankment at St Margaret’s Creek is in fact entirely man-made dating back to the 18th century and was sluiced at either end in order to retain the water from each tide within linear ditches (clearly visible from above), for the evaporation of seawater in the salt making process. This embankment is effectively an isolated 1 ½ km long island accessible only by boat at high water or by the very intrepid at low water.
‘The Egg’ was designed to accommodate the artist’s residency period of up to 12 months. Stephen Turner’s work is concerned with aspects of time and the dialectics of transience and permanence. His work often involves spending long periods in odd, abandoned places, noting changes in the complex relationship between nature and the man-made. Stephen will use the Egg as a studio base from which he can consider the fringes of the New Forest, the permeable edges where one place ends and another might start – dividing lines on maps, but which are hard to draw on the land itself. Many visitors to the New Forest National Park are not even aware that is has a coastline that is under constant threat from erosion and this project aims to increase public awareness.
Raising awareness of the past and the unfolding present of this very special location will be the task, whist living in an ethical relationship with nature and treading as lightly as possible upon the land. There will be a range of events to involve audiences in debate and discussion around the artists’ work, the building itself and sustainable development. The proposed location for the Egg is in an internationally protected site and the land itself has a fragile ecology. Public access to the Egg will therefore be strictly limited due to fragile nature of the site, but a live link and education resource will be established within Exbury Gardens and discussions are also underway with Lepe Country Park, part of which lies within the National Park.
With regard to local skills, materials and technologies in construction, the Egg structure looks towards the local marine industry and will be built locally as a cold molded plywood sheathed timber framed structure approximately 6 meters long and 2.8 meters diameter. This continues the age old tradition of timber marine construction which can be traced back many centuries on the Beaulieu River. If The Egg is granted temporary planning permission by the New Forest National Park Authority the structure will be brought to site by boat on a spring flood tide and placed onto a single 250mm diameter post bedded into an almost flat area of mud beach – the structure’s only direct fixing into the land. The post will locate into a 350mm diameter socket formed within the egg – invisible from above or from the side, and held within bearings to allow the structure to rise and fall approximately 1 ½ meters in line with the state of tide.
The structure, Stephen’s stage, will be most visible at high water – it’s pure ‘ovoid’ or ‘egg’ shape silhouetted on the salt marsh landscape. When finally removed, all that will remain will be the egg’s imprint in the mud and its post fixing. The Egg will then travel to various venues throughout the UK where it will be used as an educational tool to raise awareness of sustainability and ecological issues.